CBO Fact Error 

Posted: 2:39 am Monday, December 21st, 2009

By Jamie Dupree

A lot of Republicans have been raising questions about how the Congressional Budget Office has dealt with cost estimates for health care legislation in recent months, and on Sunday, they got even more ammunition for those attacks.

“CBO has discovered an error in the cost estimate released just yesterday,” said an aggravated Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell to reporters on Sunday.

“The correction reduces the degree to which the legislation would lower federal deficits in the decade after 2019,” said the CBO Director on his blog.

“The imprecision of these calculations reflects the even greater degree of uncertainty that attends to them,” added Director Doug Elmendorf.

“What they’re saying is, if you look at the second ten years, they (CBO) could be off by as much as a half trillion dollars,” McConnell said.

(In the Press Gallery, we suggested simply throwing darts at a dart board to minimize those discrepancies.)

In all seriousness, this is a big deal obviously.  If you can’t really believe the numbers that are being thrown around here with Talmudic-like authority by one side, then are they really worth the paper they are written on?

And this boo-boo by the CBO was on a pretty important item as well, that being the ability of the Congress to hold down Medicare spending through the use of a special Medicare advisory board.

So do you believe the CBO when they say this bill will cost $871 billion?  I would bet many in both parties might answer “no” to that question.

One more thing from the CBO – the question came up of how much that Nebraska Medicaid provision would cost, as well as the special health funding deals for two other states.  This is what the CBO sent Senators on Sunday:

“This provision would provide three states with additional federal financial assistance for their respective Medicaid programs.  Compared to the underlying bill, CBO estimates that Vermont would receive an additional $0.6 billion over ten years, Massachusetts would receive an additional $0.5 billion over ten years and Nebraska would receive an additional $0.1 billion over ten years.”

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