Mike Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, had a few important questions that he thought he wanted answered: If Congress repealed ObamaCare, how much money could the federal government save? What would be the impact on the deficit?
To get his answer, Enzi turned to the Congressional Budget Office, which is now under the leadership of a director hand-picked by the Republicans after they captured both chambers of Congress. Last week, the CBO delivered its findings.
Repealing ObamaCare would RAISE the deficit by some $353 billion by 2025. Even using so-called “dynamic scoring,” the thumb-on-the-scale approach long sought by Republicans, CBO analysts found that repeal of ObamaCare would raise the deficit by $137 billion over the next decade.
And beyond that ten-year window?
“Repealing the (Affordable Care Act) would cause federal budget deficits to increase by growing amounts after 2025.” The reasons are pretty simple: If you repeal ObamaCare, you also repeal its cost-containing features as well as the taxes that were passed to finance it.
And the effect of the American people?
“Repealing the ACA also would affect the number of people with health insurance and their sources of coverage. CBO and JCT estimate that the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured would increase by about 19 million in 2016; by 22 million or 23 million in 2017, 2018, and 2019; and by about 24 million in all subsequent years through 2025, compared with the number who are projected to be uninsured under the ACA.”
The CBO report does remind us that ObamaCare is not a free lunch. According to its analysis, ObamaCare will reduce the national GDP by 0.7 percent by the start of the next decade, largely because some lower-income workers won’t feel obligated to stay in the workforce in order to get insurance. However, that shouldn’t be surprising. You don’t reduce the federal deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars, which ObamaCare is doing, AND insure another 20 million Americans, which it is also doing, without a tradeoff, which in this case is slightly lower productivity.
It’s also important to note that none of the Republican proposals to allegedly “replace” ObamaCare has been submitted for CBO analysis. It’s almost as if the GOP is afraid of what an unbiased, third-party analysis would tell them, even when that analysis is conducted by experts of its own choosing. As Chairman Enzi discovered, that can lead to answers that you really, really do not want to hear.