GOP’s Vote To Repeal Health Care Undermines Pledge To Cut Spending, Stick To Cut-Go Rule

Last night, without holding hearings, seeking “bipartisanship” or even scoring the legislation at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), House Republicans posted two separate 2-page bills repealing the entirety of the Affordable Care Act and promised to hold a vote on the measures on Wednesday, January 12th. The Rules Committee will meet as early as Thursday of this week and could vote on the rules for considering the legislation on Friday.

The two repeal measures don’t appear to have CBO scores attached to them, but the budget office has previously estimated that eliminating the entirety of the health care law would add $143 billion to the deficit over 10 years. As a result, the GOP is excluding the vote from its new cut-go rule — under which increases in mandatory spending would have to be paid for but tax cuts would not — and dismissing the CBO’s estimates of savings in the health law. But this places the new majority at odds with the ‘Gods’ at the CBO — who they’ve routinely cited to bolster their own proposals — and its repeated pledges to lower spending in the new Congress. Below is just a sampling of Speaker-elect John Boehner’s (R-OH) commitment to “kick ass” on the spending issue:

– “I think it’s time for Democrats here on Capitol Hill to start listening to the American people. They want spending cut and they want it cut now. And I’m wondering, why isn’t the president looking for someone’s ‘ass to kick’ on this subject?” [Statement, 6/9/2010]

– “If we want to solve the budget problem, we’ve got to have a healthy economy and we have to get our arms around the runaway spending that’s going on in Washington, D.C.” [MTP, 8/8/2010]

– “I think the other thing that has to happen is that we’ve got to cut spending. If we cut spending we will help our economy, we will send signals to the markets, we will send signals to the business community, that Washington’s attempting to get its fiscal house in order.” [FTN, 12/2/2010]

During the 112th Congress, Republicans also criticized Democrats for excluding certain provisions from the pay-go rule (which required Congress to offset tax cuts or spending increase for a mandatory program with cuts in other mandatory spending or increases in other taxes) and designed a PAYGO tracker to tally when “PAYGO has been waived, gamed, ignored, or employed to justify billions of dollars in new spending and tax and fee increases.” “PAYGO has enabled hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit increases mainly due to generous loopholes allowing the majority to satisfy the procedure’s technical requirements, and erect a facade of fiscal responsibility,” incoming Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) complained in October.