The Congressional Budget Office’s official estimate of the monster law known as Obamacare was that it woudl reduce the deficit by $143 billion over the standard ten-year budget window. Conservatives everywhere pointed out that this was a sham, largely induced by Congressional Democrats delaying spending while increasing revenue immediately, such that most of the spending in the law didn’t kick in until after 2014.
The response from the Left was uproarious: “pish tosh.”
Yesterday, Kathleen Sebelius announced that the Administration was suspending the CLASS Act, a legacy of Ted Kennedy and one of the largest culprits of budget gimmicks mentioned by conservatives. By collecting premiums for four years before actually implementing the program, CLASS included $70 billion of deficit reduction. With the Obama Administration’s suspension of the program, the deficit reduction from Obamacare has been cut in half.
The CLASS Act was, of course, completely tangential to the key provisions of Obamacare and was included as a part of the consolidated health care legislation solely as a way of achieving the CBO score that Democrats wanted. In the same way that the “doc fix” was dropped and Medicare cuts were included. these programs that have little to do with the core provisions – the mandate, community rating, guaranteed issue, Medicaid expansion and premium subsidies – were Congress’ ways of rigging the CBO score.
It’s important to remember: the fault lies not in the CBO, but in the way that Democrats structured the law to game the score. The medium-term deficit is worse off for the killing of the CLASS Act, but the country is in better shape. It was a program designed to fail.