So long, Congressional Budget Office, it’s been good to know you
It’s pretty clear that the Republican efforts to “reform” health care, at their core, have nothing to do with health care, at least not in any good way. As has been noted, the primary effect of their proposed legislation will be to provide an enormous tax break to wealthy Americans.
But what is not being emphasized enough is that these pretend health care measures are nothing more than a stalking horse for a broader GOP attack on the federal government itself. Passing them is a necessary precursor to follow-up tax “reform” legislation which will not only transfer even more money from the poor to the rich, but also turn back the clock in this country to a time before before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and FDR’s New Deal.
If there were any way around it, the Republicans would forgo dealing with the complexities of health care legislation. The problem is that there is no way for them to move forward with their government-destroying tax plan without first shedding hundreds of billions of dollar of federal government spending obligations by gutting entitlement programs. They cannot be seen as proposing a tax reform plan that will dramatically increase the federal deficit, so Medicare and Medicaid have got to go.
Preventing the GOP from using health care as a pretext to dismantle this country’s medical safety net is a firebreak to keep them from steam-rolling us with their even more devastating tax reform program. Oddly enough, it is the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that is making that firebreak a possibility.
If it were not for the CBO’s putting the country on notice that proposed Republican changes to the health care system would leave over 22 million Americans uninsured, “moderate” Republicans would not have sufficient cover to buck their party’s leadership and vote against their proposals. So, the CBO may very well be the firebreak within our firebreak.
According to its own description “the CBO is strictly nonpartisan; conducts objective, impartial analysis; and hires its employees solely on the basis of professional competence without regard to political affiliation.” In a government led by the likes of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan, I can’t help but believe that the CBO’s days are numbered, at least in its current form.
My guess is that McConnell and Ryan, having nothing really new to dress up their shameful health care legislation, will now turn their attention what is called “gaming the CBO.” Why go to all the trouble of crafting legislation and strong-arming legislators, when you can jigger the CBO analysis to make things work out the way you want them to?
With the CBO neutralized, the GOP march toward its goal of destroying the federal government will proceed pretty much unimpeded.