Rove claimed House health bill results in “torrent of red ink” in second decade -- but CBO disagrees

Fox News contributor Karl Rove falsely claimed that the House health reform bill “front-loads the revenue” but “back-loads the program costs, which means by the end of the first 10 years, this program is running annual deficits,” adding that it will result in “a torrent of red ink in the second decade, when the program is fully operational.” Contrary to Rove's claim, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the House bill would not only reduce federal budget deficits by $104 billion through 2019, but also that it would continue to reduce the deficit in the subsequent decade.

Rove: "[W]e can count on this being a torrent of red ink in the second decade"

From the October 30 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

ROVE: Here's a big issue, and I'm trying to understand this and looking carefully at the bill and hope to arrive at sort of -- it looks like this bill front-loads the costs as all of the -- excuse me, front-loads the revenue as all of these bills have tended to do. That is to say, the tax cuts, the tax increases and the benefit cuts, and it back-loads the program costs, which means that by the end of the first 10 years, this program is running annual deficits. If it's running annual deficits by the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth year, we can count on this being a torrent of red ink in the second decade, when the program is fully operational, so there are lots of -- there are lots of problems that could cause this to be -- to end up being a non-starter, but they will get something through the House, and it will go to the Senate.

CBO projects deficit reduction continuing after the first 10 years

CBO estimated federal budget deficit reductions of $104 billion during first decade. Contrary to Rove's claim that “by the end of the first 10 years,” the House health care reform bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962), “is running annual deficits,” the CBO found that in the eighth, ninth, and tenth years, the bill runs a surplus. Additionally, the CBO found that “enacting H.R. 3962 would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $104 billion over the 2010-2019 period.” From CBO's score:

CBO projected continued savings after first 10 years. According to CBO, the House bill is expected to continue reducing the deficit during the following decade, not causing the “torrent of red ink” predicted by Rove. From the CBO score:

All told, H.R. 3962 would reduce the federal deficit by $9 billion in 2019, CBO and JCT estimate. After that, the added revenues and cost savings are projected to grow slightly more rapidly than the cost of the coverage expansions. In the decade after 2019, the gross cost of the coverage expansions would probably exceed 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), but the added revenues and cost savings would probably be greater. Consequently, CBO expects that the legislation would slightly reduce federal budget deficits in that decade relative to those projected under current law-with a total effect during that decade that is in a broad range between zero and one-quarter percent of GDP. The imprecision of that calculation reflects the even greater degree of uncertainty that attends to it, compared with CBO's 10-year budget estimates, and the effects of the bill could fall outside of that range. [CBO score, 10/29/09]

Rove has repeatedly spread health care misinformation from his Fox News perch

Rove is a serial health care misinformer. Rove has spread misinformation and made false claims throughout the 2009 health care reform debate during numerous appearances on Fox News as a contributor. For instance, purporting to assess President Obama's September 9 health care speech, Rove contradicted the CBO's assessment of the House bill to suggest that “most companies” will “dump” coverage, when in fact CBO found that net employer coverage will increase; obscured the wording of a Washington Post/ABC News poll question showing broad support for the public option to discredit it; and falsely suggested that the Obama administration is pushing veterans toward “assisted suicide.”

Zachary Aronow is an intern at Media Matters for America.