Will, Brooks mislead on deficit reduction in health care reform


Columnists George Will and David Brooks both claimed that the deficit reduction provisions of the Senate health care bill are, in Brooks' words, "totally bogus" because "it has 10 years of taxes and six years of benefits." In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that the Senate bill will not only reduce budget deficits through 2019, but will continue to reduce deficits in the following decade.

Will, Brooks claim deficit reduction is "bogus" and due to "10 years of taxes and six years of benefits"

Brooks: "[A] lot of the deficit control is totally bogus." Appearing on the March 14 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, Brooks said he "lean[s] against" health care reform, in part because "a lot of the deficit control is totally bogus." Brooks added: "We're [going to] have 10 years of revenue to pay for six years of costs."

Will: Legislation's deficit reduction is due to "accounting gimmicks." On the March 14 edition of ABC's This Week, host Jake Tapper said to Will, "[F]ormer Congressman Ray LaHood ... has an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune today talking about why, as a member of the House, he would have voted for this bill, because this bill reduces the deficit, and it also brings down health care costs and it will make insurance more affordable. Do you believe that he would have voted for it as a Republican congressman?" Will replied: "Not a bit. It reduces the deficit because you have 10 years of taxes and six years of benefits and other accounting gimmicks."

In fact, CBO has estimated Senate and House bills will continue to reduce deficits after 2019

CBO expects Senate bill to continue deficit reduction during decade after 2019. From the March 11 CBO estimate of the Senate health care bill:

CBO expects that the legislation, if enacted, would reduce federal budget deficits over the decade after 2019 relative to those projected under current law -- with a total effect during that decade that is in a broad range between one-quarter percent and one-half percent of GDP. That judgment is unchanged from CBO's previous assessment, and the imprecision of that calculation reflects the even greater degree of uncertainty that attends to it, compared with CBO's 10-year budget estimates.

CBO estimated the House bill will also result in deficit reductions in the decade after 2019. From the November 6 CBO estimate:

According to CBO and JCT's assessment, enacting H.R. 3962 would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2010-2019 period (see Table 1) [this estimate was later updated to $138 billion over the same period]. In the subsequent decade, the collective effect of its provisions would probably be slight reductions in federal budget deficits. Those estimates are all subject to substantial uncertainty.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
George F. Will, David Brooks
Meet the Press, This Week
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