The "New" GOP

03.11.13

Ryan's Budget and Obamacare: His Own Facts

Hello, I am back. We will discuss aspects of my vacation in due course, but first, our friend Mr. Ryan.

He's facing lots of derision for assuming the repeal of Obamacare in his new budget. First of all, credit where it's due--it was apparently Chris Wallace of Fox News who brought this information to light in questioning Ryan, so good for him.

And second of all, yes, this is a total howler. Repeal of Obamacare? Not going to happen. Could theoretically happen in 2017, one supposes, but by that time, even if there is a Republican president and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, including the super-majority of 60 in the Senate that would presumably be needed to enact full repeal, states will be getting billions in federal funding to put working poor people on the rolls of their new exchanges. It seems pretty unlikely that broad support for undoing that would exist.

So Ryan's assumption doesn't pass any known laugh test. So why does he do it? Well, because of the old saying "that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it." Which is to say...

The Republicans have spent the years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act insisting that it's a deficit-buster. You heard Mitt Romney say this a thousand times. It wasn't true, and it isn't true. In June 2012, Politifact gave Romney a flat-out "false" when he made the claim, writing:

...for claims about deficits, we consider the Congressional Budget Office, often called the CBO, to be the standard by which we fact-check claims.

The CBO said this about the health care law back in 2010: It lowers the deficit, by about $124 billion over 10 years.

And in 2011, when Republicans offered a bill to repeal the health care law, the CBO said that increased the deficit, by about $210 billion over 10 years.

Now, is the CBO infallible? Certainly not. And good questions have been raised about some of the CBO’s methods in accounting for the health care law’s effects. We reported on some those concerns in great detail in a fact-check of statement from U.S. Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. He said the law was "accelerating our country toward bankruptcy." We rated that Mostly False.

So Ryan has been telling this lie for a while, as have all Republicans. The month after this Politifact assessment, the CBO issued a second report running some new numbers and finding the same result. And this year, The New York Times reported in mid-February that the deficit was decreasing (and it is, and rapidly; see Krugman today on this) largely because of lower health-care costs, by no means all but some of which could be traced to the ACA.

In other words, in reality land, Obamacare contributes to deficit reduction. By how much, we certainly don't yet know. But all the signs we have--the experts' projections and the early evidence--suggest that this is the case.

But in Republican land, it's an article of faith that the ACA increases the deficit. This being the case, or "the case" as it were, then how in the world could Ryan introduce a new budget to eliminate the deficit in 10 years (the full thing is being unveiled Wednesday) that includes Obamacare? He'd be destroyed by the agitprop machine of the right if his budget did that, both because they just detest the thing and because it "increases" the deficit. They've agreed on this! Anyone who says otherwise is guilty of apostasy.

So again, this is our "new" GOP. Making up realities according to how the howling half of the base would respond. That sounds kind of like the old GOP to me.