Fox inexplicably interprets CBO budget outlook as indictment of health care reform


Both America's Newsroom and On the Record falsely suggested that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said the health care reform law worsens the long-term budget outlook. In fact, CBO said that since the law reduces deficits, it slightly improves the budget outlook.

Fox falsely suggests CBO said health care reform worsened budget outlook

Moore: "Why didn't they warn us three months ago before we passed this health care bill?" On Fox News' On the Record, The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore falsely suggested that CBO projected that health care reform would worsen the budget outlook and claimed that CBO "perpetuated" a "fraud" because they didn't "warn us three months ago before we passed this health care bill." From the June 30 edition of Fox News' On the Record:

MOORE: They said the main one was Medicare and Medicaid. Now the reason that's important, Greta, is they're saying we got to bring down these health care costs. Well, wait a minute. We just passed this Obamacare bill that massively expands the government realm, puts 30 to 40 million people on the government system. So I think that's a mistake.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (host): So where was CBO --

MOORE: I know, that's -- that is the amazing thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where was CBO when there was the discussion about health care? I mean, if they're now putting this -- these terrible, you know, words -- unsustainable, and they're putting these scare words out there and saying this is going to happen to us and it's only going to get worse, and it's health care. I think to myself, when they were giving the numbers, when they were doing their -- the estimates and numbers --

MOORE: You know what? I could not agree with you more. I think the CBO is complicit in this bad news. Because they should have -- why didn't they warn us three months ago before we passed this health care bill --

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, why didn't they?

MOORE: It's a good question. You may recall they actually said that this health care would pay for itself -- everyone knew that wasn't true. It was kind of a wink and a nod. And I don't have a good explanation for why they perpetuated this fraud.

Angle reports health care reform increases spending, ignores that it decreases deficits. America's Newsroom co-host Martha MacCallum stated that CBO's new budget outlook "is so important" because "this is the first estimate that actually includes the new cost of health care. And it is not pretty." Correspondent Jim Angle then reported that CBO said the health care reform law increases spending without mentioning that CBO said it will reduce deficits. From the June 30 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

MacCALLUM: The director of the Congressional Budget Office testifying right now on Capitol Hill and now releasing the 2010 long-term budget outlook. The reason this is so important is that this is the first estimate that actually includes the new cost of health care. And it is not pretty. That's how we start a brand new hour this morning, everybody, of America's Newsroom. Good to have you with us. I'm Martha MacCallum.

BILL HEMMER (host): And I'm Bill Hemmer. Good morning, Martha. Unsustainable. That's the word they're using. A common theme throughout all the budget talks, and the prediction is simple. Change government spending, or head down a path to financial ruin. And the forecast they're getting now puts the health care price tag higher -- in fact, much higher than what Uncle Sam expected.


ANGLE: Now, the main problems are the rising cost for health care and the aging of the U.S. population -- the baby boomers all retiring, getting on Medicare -- and the expansion of Medicaid under the health care bill. Now, the president and others have argued that changes made in the recently passed health care legislation would help on spending. But the CBO found that at least for the next 20 years, it will not. And its analysis is that government health care spending will increase just as much as predicted before the legislation was passed.

In fact, the CBO report said in its latest analysis that spending on major mandatory health care programs, meaning Medicare and Medicaid, will grow from roughly 5 percent of GDP today to 10 percent in 2035 and will continue to increase thereafter. Again, the report said that includes all of the effects of the recently enacted health care legislation. And it says the health care bill is expected to increase federal spending in the next decade and for most of the following decade. They do say that by 2030, the legislation will slightly reduce federal spending for health care, if all of its provisions are implemented -- but, you know, as you know, Martha, that is always a big if.

MacCALLUM: Big if, indeed. I just want to point out those were live shots that we just showed of Doug Elmendorf, who was testifying this morning. And as we all remember too well, Jim, the whole initiative was based on the fact that instituting this health care reform was going to help to cut costs and that it wasn't going to take some 20 years for this to kick in. And all of this has made voters so focused on the financial health of our country.

In fact, CBO said health care reform reduces deficits

CBO director tells deficit commission that health care reform slightly improves budget outlook. As The Washington Post noted on July 1, CBO director Doug Elmendorf said during his June 30 presentation that the health care reform bill "did not substantially diminish" the long-term deficit problem, but that it "made a dent":

"Growth in spending on health-care programs remains the central fiscal challenge," CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf said in a presentation to Obama's bipartisan deficit commission. "In CBO's judgment, the health-care legislation enacted earlier this year made a dent in the problem, but did not substantially diminish that challenge."

Although more starkly stated, CBO's position has not changed since the health-care legislation was approved. The new forecast simply incorporates CBO's cost estimates from that time, which predicted that the plan to expand coverage, raise taxes and cut Medicare spending would reduce deficits by about $140 billion over the next decade and by more than $1 trillion in the decade after.

"Slowing the rate of health care cost growth is the single most important action we can take to reduce our long-term fiscal shortfall," White House budget director Peter Orszag said in a statement. "The report confirms that the enactment and successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act is a key step toward a healthier fiscal future."

CBO budget outlook says health care reform law will "reduce budget deficits over the 2010-2019 period and in subsequent years." CBO's June 30 long-term budget outlook states that the health care reform law "is expected to increase federal spending in the next 10 years and for most of the following decade. By 2030, however, that legislation will slightly reduce federal spending for health care if all of its provisions are fully implemented, CBO projects." CBO noted in a footnote that although the law -- which will reduce the number of uninsured by 32 million by 2019 -- will increase federal spending on health care in the next two decades, it will still reduce budget deficits:

If all of its provisions are carried out, the legislation will also increase federal revenues and reduce budget deficits over the 2010-2019 period and in subsequent years, according to estimates by CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation.

CBO: In long-term, health care reform "slow[s] the accumulation of debt considerably." While cautioning that long-term estimates of health care spending are uncertain, the CBO budget outlook stated that if the health care reform bill is implemented as written, it "increase[s] projected revenues, particularly in the 2030s and beyond, thus slowing the accumulation of debt considerably."

During health care debate, Fox repeatedly ignored CBO estimates that the bills would reduce deficits

During and after the debate over health care reform, Fox News and Fox News contributors repeatedly ignored CBO estimates finding that the proposals would not increase the federal debt. And at times, Fox News responded to CBO's estimates by portraying CBO as untrustworthy. For example:

Posted In
Economy, Budget
Fox News Channel
Jim Angle, Stephen Moore, Martha MacCallum
On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, America's Newsroom
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