Nancy Pelosi and House leadership have yet to release the language of the bill they plan to vote on this week that will reshape one-sixth of the American economy. Part of the delay is the lack of a CBO score that would demonstrate acceptable cost savings, both through the original bill itself and the reconciliation fixes being cooked up behind closed doors, out of the sight of the American electorate.
Philip Klein at the American Spectator cites a report from Congressional Quarterly that says that Democrats are less than enthusiastic about the CBO reports they’ve seen so far:
House Democratic leaders are still struggling to produce a final health care overhaul bill at an acceptable official cost estimate, but Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday they continue to plan a final vote this week. House leaders were to huddle late Tuesday afternoon, following a noon session of the full Democratic Caucus. There were reports they are having trouble drafting a bill that meets their budgetary targets….
Rank-and-file Democrats did not talk about the details, but said that the CBO scores had come up short. “They were less than expected” in terms of deficit reduction, said Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, who plans to vote for the bill.
So it stands to reason that Democrats are tinkering with the fixes until they get a CBO score they can then trumpet to the nation. The problem is that they haven’t got one yet, and Klein notes that the fixes needed will cost a lot of money, decreasing the likelihood of an acceptable CBO score and making it tougher to make the case for reconciliation fixes as a means of deficit reduction.
If the CBO produces a score that is as bad or worse than the Senate bill, it may be the final kiss of death for this current health care bill. The current legislative math is an accounting trick anyway, with the current plan not calling for spending in the first few years while taxes are levied in the meantime. An analysis that fails to show deficit reduction would truly render pointless this entire exercise.
But as this entire exercise is one of political gamesmanship and not one of the construction of sound public policy, that may not sway the plans of Democratic leadership anyway.