As debate in Washington begins to focus on ways to reduce the deficit, Republican lawmakers — notoriously unable to actually specify any significant spending cuts they would like to make — often give repeal of the President Obama’s health care law as one of their best ideas to reduce federal spending. But there’s one small problem with this plan — repealing the Affordable Care Act would actually increase the deficit, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, to the tune of $143 billion over ten years.
Asked about how he would save money on Fox News yesterday, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), who is one of the few GOP lawmakers to oppose a full repeal, nonetheless claimed the law will cause a massive amount of new spending. He dismissed the CBO’s estimates out of hand, without any explanation, and found the concept of listening to the CBO so “absurd on its face” that he laughed when host Shannon Bream mentioned the office’s findings, saying, “if you believe that I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you”:
GREGG: The health care plan alone will add $2.5 trillion in new spending to the federal government over the next ten years. […]
BREAM: Okay, you point to $2.5 trillion in increased costs because of health care, but Democrats are going to point to figures from the CBO estimates and other economists saying that it is actually going to save us money. Where is the disconnect on the math?
GREGG: [Laughs] Hey, if you believe that, Shannon, I’m going to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn. I mean, that’s just absurd on its face.
Watch it (beginning 2:40):
While Gregg is quick to dismiss the CBO — or anyone else — who disagrees with the disinformation he is trying to push, the senator has been happy to heap praise on the office when its findings do comport with his narrative. While discussing health care in 2009, Gregg said, “the nail was hit on the head by Doug Elmendorf, who’s head of CBO — and who is, by the way, appointed by the Democratic leadership of the House and the Senate.”
In March, on Fox News, Gregg urged viewers to “go to CBO” if they didn’t trust a figure he had mentioned on Medicare. “[T]hey are the independent score keeper,” he explained. But just hours later on CNN, Gregg was back to attacking the office, saying, “of course” he didn’t believe the office’s calculations on the Affordable Care Act. Rehashing his familiar talking point, he joked, “If you believe those numbers, I will sell you a bridge in Brooklyn and probably two in Oakland.”
Perhaps Gregg should take some sage advice from a senior U.S. senator: “We can solve this problem if we would just simply listen to what the CBO proposed and proceed on a plan of addressing the problem rather than addressing the politics.” That senator? Judd Gregg, just over a year ago.