CNN Panel: Trump And The GOP's Efforts To Delegitimize The CBO Ahead Of ACA Repeal Are Unprecedented

Wolf Blitzer: “I Don't Remember A Time When The Congressional Budget Office -- Which Is Non-Partisan, Often Usually Highly Respected -- Has Been, In Effect, Smeared Like This”

From the March 13 edition of CNN's Wolf:

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WOLF BLITZER (HOST): I suspect that [Republican leadership] fear these numbers that are about to be released [by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)] as early as later today are not going to be beneficial to the Paul Ryan strategy of trying to get this passed.

JOHN KING: Right, because they want to look at this as their bill [the American Health Care Act] will increase access, that if you have health coverage now, we're going to give you more choices. If you are in a county with only one Obamacare policy, there will be more choices. But the CBO is going to say, “X million of people will lose their coverage under this bill,” and that politically is very hard. The Republicans are trying to do something that is very difficult. They are trying to take away a government benefit. They're trying to roll back a government entitlement, and because of that, people are going to lose their health care. So the CBO score is one giant landmine as they try to pass this bill because they don't have all the Republican votes lined up yet, never mind Democrats. No Democrat's going to be with them on this. As they try to get Republican votes, this is going to scare some people. I also want to say, the president said something very significant earlier today: “Prices will go down, down, down. Choices will go up, up, up.” That is tantamount to President Obama saying, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” President Trump better hope that's true, because I can trust you -- and Kirsten knows this better than I do -- every Democratic ad firm in America has rolled on that and is holding that. And if the statistics a year or two down the road don't show that to be true, that's going to be a campaign ad.

BLITZER: Because there already as we pointed out, Kirsten, there's concerns among Republicans, and if this doesn't work out as wonderfully as the president has suggested, 2018 could be a serious problem for the Republican majority in the House.

KIRSTEN POWERS: Yeah. Well, definitely, and looking at the plan, there doesn't seem to be anything that would necessarily change the dynamics that are problematic with Obamacare. So, Obamacare is not perfect. There are some problems. There's some people's premiums who have gone up. But a lot of the analysis has looked at it, and the CBO probably will find the same things, is that it may actually make some people's premiums go up and not go down. So that's one thing to really look at in the CBO numbers. The other thing is in order to use reconciliation, they have to show that they are going to save at least $2 billion over ten years. There's a possibility that it'll come in under that, in which case they're going to have to go back to the drawing board because they have to use reconciliation for this. So, they've tried to delegitimize the CBO, and so maybe they'll just say these numbers don't matter. But at some point, they're going to have to come up with some sort of reasonable measure -- right? -- for us to know what they're voting on.

BLITZER: And we should be getting those numbers as early as later this afternoon. Have you ever seen such an effort in advance of a CBO assessment that's about to be released to diminish the whole process, to make it look like, “You know what, they were so wrong in the past. Don't even pay attention to these numbers.” I don't remember a time when the Congressional Budget Office -- which is non-partisan often usually highly respected -- has been, in effect, smeared like this.

AB STODDARD: Right, and it's a little bit of sort of a cue from President Trump the way he treats judges or courts before decisions come that might be unfavorable. This is a new tactic. It will be interesting to see when they come out with their criticism of whatever the numbers are if Democrats scratch up some old quotes from 2009 of Republicans saying things about CBO scoring and how important it was.


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