Earlier today, the Congressional Budget Office released a preliminary analysis of the health care reform reconciliation package, concluding that it would cost $940 billion over 10 years, reduce the deficit by $138 billion over 10 years and by $1.2 trillion over 20 years. Republicans, however, are either dismissing the numbers or asserting that the report shows that health care reform is not “gonna save the taxpayers’ money.”
STEELE: Can you just give me an honest number, Rick? How much do you really, legitimately think, adding, using the president’s number, 30 million people to a health care system that you just said doesn’t work is going to cost the American taxpayer? How much you think it’s really gonna? $940 billion dollars over ten years. So, you telling me an additional $940 billion dollars a year is going to make all of our problems go away?
SANCHEZ: According to the calculations that we did and according to the calculations the Democrats are announcing today, it’s going to save in the deficit for the United States citizens $1.2 trillion. Do you believe that’s not true?
STEELE: Ok, can I, I got two words for you — three words, three words.
SANCHEZ: Go, go.
STEELE: That’s a lie.
When Sanchez pointed out that Steele is “arguing with the CBO,” Steele responded by saying, “let me tell you about the CBO.” “Since they’ve been taken down to the woodshed at the White House last year, you can’t believe the numbers,” said Steele. “CBO is only as good as what you put into it.” “You’re saying the president of the United States is corrupted the CBO with a personal phone call or visit?” asked Sanchez. Steele then backtracked a bit, claiming that he was “just saying that, look, this whole process has not worked on behalf of the American people.” Watch it:
This isn’t the first time Steele has accused President Obama of intimidating the CBO into changing its numbers. In December, cited a July 2009 meeting at the White House with CBO head Douglas Elmendorf and other economists — which he said was the Obama taking Elemendorf “to the woodshed” — to dismiss a positive CBO score for health care legislation. “All of a sudden they’re getting these numbers that fall right within the framework of what they’re trying to do,” said Steele. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called Steele’s claim “delusional.”
Additionally, it’s odd that Steele says “you can’t believe the numbers” ever since that July 2009 meeting because Steele and the RNC have cited CBO numbers since then to support their arguments. In fact, as recently as March 5, the RNC invoked the CBO to criticize Obama’s proposed bank fee.