Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican deficit hawk, just made a compelling case for how the Senate health reform bill is actually not the cost saver the Congressional Budget Office says it is. His main point was that the Senate bill makes cuts and collects taxes for 10 years, but only includes 6 years of spending. He says the result is a favorable, but misleading, CBO score. There is some truth to what he says. Here’s a story I wrote about one provision in Democratic plan that many experts say at least borders on budget gimmickry.
But instead of addressing Ryan’s points, President Obama tried to pivot away. He asked if Republicans think Medicare Advantage works well. (Medicare Advantage is a program in which the federal government pays private insurers to cover those eligible for Medicare. Every Medicare Advantage recipient costs the federal government 15% more than a standard Medicare recipient, however, and many of the cuts in the Senate bill come from paring this back.) Sen. John McCain, for the second time today, mentioned the special deal that Medicare Advantage recipients in Florida get in the Senate bill. Obama was boxed in and he had not choice but to say McCain has a “good point.” Here’s Politifact’s assessment of McCain’s claim, which has also been made by Karl Rove. The lawmaker tapped to answer Ryan’s charges was Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra, who did not talk about Ryan’s points either, but simply said CBO is “the referee” and shouldn’t be questioned.