*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
Some Americans may recall that during the campaign Trump pledged to change libel laws to silence journalists who write stories that expose his lies or “run afoul of his ideological agenda.” Republicans in the House, not to be outdone by the likes of a big-time wrestling celebrity like Trump, resurrected an old rule that gives them, including individual legislators, unchallenged authority to interrogate, fire or slash any federal employee’s salary to $1 for even daring to run afoul of their “ideological agenda.” It is curious that Republicans hate rules, regulations, and laws unless they serve to either silence dissent and opposition or conceal their devious machinations that are detrimental to the population.
That is exactly the case of House Republicans who inserted two short paragraphs into their “new rules” that forbid a federal agency from doing the job it was created to do. Before Koch Republicans took control of both houses of Congress, the once non-partisan and “independent” Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) role was performing an accurate and unbiased cost analysis of any kind of legislation or policy implementation to the American taxpayers. It was about the only means of keeping Congress honest about legislation regarding any kind of cutting or spending.
Not that anyone cared at the time, that important CBO task was diminished last year when House Speaker Paul Ryan changed the CBO’s rules forcing them to use a “trickle down” accounting scam to conceal the outrageous cost to taxpayers of tax cuts for the rich and corporations about to be implemented. This latest “change” seriously neuters the CBO and prohibits them from even examining, much less reporting to taxpayers, the very significant cost the taxpayers will bear for repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Buried on page 25 of the Republicans’ new rules (pdf) for the Koch-era Congress is a subsection with explicit instructions to the director of the CBO to perform a 10-year cost analysis of each bill reported by the House.
“The Director of the Congressional Budget Office shall, to the extent practicable, prepare an estimate of whether a bill or joint resolution reported by a committee (other than the Committee on Appropriations), or amendment thereto or conference report thereon, would cause, relative to current law, a net increase in direct spending in excess of $5,000,000,000 in any of the 4 consecutive 10 fiscal year periods beginning with the first fiscal year that is 10 fiscal years after the current fiscal year.”
There is really nothing new in those instructions except for one new Republican “limitation” that says:
“This subsection shall not apply to any bill or joint resolution, or amendment thereto or conference report thereon—
(A) repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and title I and subtitle B of title II of the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010;
(B) reforming the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010.” (author bold)
What that means in a little plainer language is that the new Republican rule “specifically instructs the CBO not to say how much it will cost taxpayers to repeal Obamacare.” The reason Republicans have officially prohibited the CBO from reporting how costly repealing the ACA (Obamacare) is because the last CBO “cost analysis of repealing Obamacare” (2015) found it would increase the deficit by $353 billion. It is an important point because besides unnecessarily stripping healthcare from tens-of-millions of Americans and increasing the deficit, Republicans will use “budget reconciliation” to repeal the healthcare law that requires any legislation that increases the deficit to expire after 10 years. It is precisely why the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich had to expire after 10 years; they blew up the deficit and Republicans knew it was going to happen just like they know that repealing the ACA will.
If there is no CBO cost analysis on the repeal and how much it increases the deficit, there is no “requirement” for the legislation’s expiration after 10 years. And, if there is no independent analysis, Americans will never learn how devastating “Obamacare” repeal will be to Medicare’s long term solvency that was extended a couple of decades because of the Affordable Care Act’s execution.
In fact, the Fiscal Times reported that repealing the Affordable Care Act is the death knell for Medicare and could spur its bankruptcy; exactly what Republicans want as part of their “lie” that any government program except defense is a failure and costly.
The last thing deceitful Republicans want Americans to learn is that not only will 20-plus million Americans lose their access to healthcare with the health law’s repeal, it will cost them dearly now and increase the deficit to satisfy their nasty “ideological agenda.” This stunt is beyond just “omitting inconvenient information” taxpayers deserve to know, and it is not “fiscal recklessness;” it is sheer and deliberate deceit which is apparently a mandatory requirement to serve as a Republican politician.