Health care reform: House marches toward repeal vote
Health care reform law is top target of the new GOP House majority. But critics say GOP leaders set aside their pledges of fiscal restraint and openness in pushing forward on vote to repeal it.
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“Not a single hearing has been held on this reform package,” said Rep. James McGovern (D) of Massachusetts, a member of the Rules Committee. “Why don’t we hold hearings on the impact [of repeal]? We’re rushing something to the floor.”Skip to next paragraph
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GOP lawmakers' dismissal of the CBO estimates on the budget impacts – typically considered the gold standard for assessing the cost of all legislation – especially riled Democrats, who charge that it takes the referee off the field. “[You’re saying]: We don’t care what the nonpartisan referee says, and I would encourage you not to go down that road,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee.
Republicans argue that Democrats in the last Congress rigged the CBO estimates with flawed assumptions and double counts. These include ignoring the $115 billion needed to implement the law; double-counting $521 billion in gains from Social Security payroll taxes, premiums, and Medicare cuts; and counting 10 years of revenues to offset six years of new spending, they say.
Pressed on this point in Thursday’s briefing, Boehner said: “CBO is entitled to their opinion."
“CBO can only provide a score based on the assumptions that are given to them," added Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, in an e-mail. "And if you go back and look at the health care bill and the assumptions that were given to them, you see all of the double-counting that went on, you see the fact that the doc fix [a subsequent series of House changes to the original legislation] wasn't even part of the bill.”
Even if the House votes to repeal health-care reform next week, as expected, the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to take up the issue – and, even if it did, President Obama would be sure to veto a repeal. But the House vote restarts a national debate on health-care reform – a key pledge for the 87 freshman who gave Republicans their majority. In a second vote Friday, House committees are instructed to report legislation to “replace the job-killing health care law.”
“ObamaCare spends a trillion dollars that we don’t have and kills jobs at a time when our top priority must be getting people back to work,” said House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia, in a statement. “This job-killing health care law has caused great uncertainty for employers small and large and has put our country on a path to fiscal insolvency.”