Romney’s Fuzzy Math: Campaign Unable To Defend Claim That Repealing Health Law ‘Saves’ Money

Deficits do matter, they matter a lot,” former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney told a packed auditorium in Exeter, New Hampshire Thursday evening, promising to cut government spending by $500 billion in his first term as president. Romney said he would eliminate federal subsidies to Amtrak, make cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts, strip foreign aid from “countries that can take care of themselves,” and of course repeal the Affordable Care Act:

ROMNEY: The first approach of this combination effort is to eliminate and cut programs. Now, there are some programs I just don’t like and would be easy to eliminate like Obamacare. And that saves about $90 billion, Obamacare alone, by 2016.

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But Romney’s commitment to eliminating health reform undermines his message on deficit reduction. ThinkProgress contacted the Romney campaign to ask about the candidate’s alleged spending reduction.

They pointed us to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the GOP’s repeal bill, which does find on page 5 that eliminating the law would reduce federal spending by $95 billion in 2016. But page 6 of the same document also notes that the government would lose substantially more in revenue — $219 billion over the period of 2012 to 2016 — resulting in an increase to the budget deficit of $85 billion. Overall, repealing the law would “cause a net increase in federal budget deficits of $210 billion over the 2012-2021 period,” the CBO found.

When confronted with the disparity, a Romney spokesperson first explained that the Massachusetts governor is focused on spending reductions and then dismissed the deficit increase by describing the CBO’s savings for the Affordable Care Act as gimmicky.

In other words, Romney is cherry picking numbers to meet his spending reduction goals while conveniently ignoring data that contradicts his message on deficits.