User:Woozle/blog/2011-01-15 1138 Obamacare myth the fourth

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Obamacare myth #4: Repealing it will save money and help the deficit
2011-01-15 1138

This is the mirror of Myth #1, but it's worth examining in its own right because Republicans are seriously arguing that this is necessary to help reverse the deficit -- and people are believing them.

Repealing Obamacare will cost in excess of $200 billion.

This bit of information is brought to us by The Congressional Budget Office (CBO). We talked about them earlier because of their estimate that Obamacare would reduce the deficit by $143 billion over the first decade and by $1.2 trillion in the second decade.

I should probably have mentioned that the CBO is a non-partisan agency; Republicans often cite and use their figures[1].

The $220b figure is based on expected losses of $770b, offset by savings of $540b.

The best reason to mention this fact is this lovely bit of Republican spin (h/t) on those numbers:

...the CBO is saying repealing Obamacare would shrink the size of government by $770 billion over a ten-year period.

This is fascinating for two reasons.

Minor point: it seems they accept the accuracy of the CBO's numbers -- at least as far as the $770b losses. Their interpretation of those numbers is another matter.

Major point: They are taking a $770b increase in the deficit, labeling it as a reduction in the size of government, and thereby declaring that to be a good thing.[2]

In other words, an increase in the deficit is hailed as a good thing. As one commenter observed, this is part of why liberals have a hard time believing that conservatives are serious about reducing the deficit.

Whether or not you think government should be smaller, there is a difference between (a) increasing the size of the government's obligations and (b) preventing the government from meeting its existing obligations. That $770b falls squarely into the latter category.

Conservatives often emphasize the importance of "personal responsibility", but apparently ensuring that America meets its obligations doesn't count as responsibility.

Most importantly, though: repealing Obamacare will deepen the deficit.

If you don't believe the CBO's numbers, you need to explain why -- and remember that National Review apparently believes them.


  1. "House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday he believes the CBO, a nonpartisan group long considered by both parties to be an impartial referee on budget matters, was manipulated by Democrats to produce a false estimate of savings in the health care reform law." — ABC News (emphasis added)
  2. Math error-300x229.png
    One commenter on that thread took it even further:

    $770b in taxes we won't need to pay, and $540b we won't need to spend. We save $1.31 trillion just by repealing Obamacare.

    (She even called this thinking "Democratic math", but didn't give any justification for this.) The fact that nobody pointed out the flaw in this logic makes me wonder if they possibly actually think that any flow of money to or from the government somehow increases the deficit... presumably because it means you're "spending money".

    Was that statement a Poe, and understood as such by all other commenters, or is that really how they think?