| January 19, 2017
After Obamacare Report, GOP Wants to Kill the CBO. Again.
The truth, it is said, will set you free. Unless, that is, you are a Republican and the issue is the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Republicans are foaming at the mouth at the nonpartisan agency's conclusion that the repeal of Obamacare will no replacement in place for the Affordable Care Act will lead to 32 million more uninsured Americans and a doubling of premiums. Speaker Ryan Paul Ryan (R-WI) called the analysis "meaningless," while Rep. Steve "David Duke Without the Baggage" Scalise (R-LA) fumed "The CBO report assumes no Obamacare replacement." Today's conservative apoplexy came less than a week after House Republicans instructed CBO Director Keith Hall--a man they themselves put in the job--not to "score" the budget-busting impact of their Obamacare repeal proposals. And on Friday, former House Speaker and current Trump bath-water drinker Newt Gingrich called for the dismantling of the nonpartisan scorekeeper, because "the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is simply incompatible with the Trump era."
Of course, this right-wing vendetta against CBO is nothing new. From health care and taxes to the stimulus and immigration reform, Republicans have been waging a war against the CBO for years.
To be sure, Republicans have been raging against the CBO machine over Obamacare since its first assessments of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act beginning in 2009. It's no mystery why. From its earliest estimates in 2009, the CBO has always forecast that Obamacare would reduce the national debt. The math has always been straight-forward. The 10-year cost of Obamacare (for Medicaid expansion, insurance subsidies, etc.) has always been less than revenue generated by new taxes imposed by the ACA and the significant savings extracted from Medicare insurers and providers. That's why CBO in June 2015 explained that repealing Obamacare would add "at least $137 billion or as much as $353 billion" in new deficits over the ensuing decade. As Sarah Kliff summed it up at the time:
"No matter how CBO scores it, Obamacare reduces the deficit."
So it comes as no surprise that Gingrich is now proclaiming "every reform will get a false score from CBO." After all, in November 2011 the short-lived GOP presidential frontrunner declared, "If you are serious about real health reform, you must abolish the Congressional Budget Office because it lies." The House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wasn't happy, either.
lied. Charging that "most people understand that the CBO did the job it was asked to do by the then-Democrat majority," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor warned, "bill has the potential to bankrupt this federal government as well as the states." As CBS News reported three years, Cantor quickly doubled down:
Cantor also disputed the claim, put forth by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, that the health care reform bill passed by Congress last year will actually reduce the deficit by $143 billion, calling the figure "budget gimmickry."
"I think what we do know is the health care bill costs over $1 trillion," Cantor told Hill. "And we know it was full of budget gimmickry. And it spends money we don't have in this country."
As Ezra Klein of the Washington Post explained at the time, "Republicans are aware that this looks, well, horrible. So they're trying to explain why their decision to lift the rule requiring fiscal responsibility is actually fiscally responsible."
What's important about Cantor's argument is not that he's wrong. It's why he's saying something he knows to be wrong. There are plenty of reasons to oppose the health-care reform bill. You might not want to spend that money insuring people, or you might not think the legislation goes far enough in reforming the system. But as a matter of arithmetic, using the math that Congress always uses, the bill saves money. It cuts enough spending and raises enough taxes to more than pay for itself, both in the first 10 years and in the second 10 years.
"Repealing health-care reform would cost hundreds of billions of dollars," Klein rightly concluded, "and Eric Cantor knows it."
If you have any doubt on that point, just look at the CBO's December 2015 assessment of Rep. Tom Price's H.R. 3762, the "Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act." When CBO scored H.R. 3762, it told Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi that its Obamacare "repeal" provisions would reduce deficits by $474 billion between 2016 and 2025. Conservatives were overjoyed. But those giddy GOPers didn't acknowledge that their bill was only a partial repeal. They skipped over what Health Affairs rightly called "the $879 billion footnote." As that magic footnote in the legislation drafted by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Burr (R-NC) declares:
All provisions of PPACA and HCERA are repealed except for the changes to Medicare." (Emphasis added). [Note: PPACA and HCERA are the two statutory components of the law now known as the ACA -- or Obamacare.] [Emphasis mine.]
That difference, it turns out, makes all the difference. "Saving that single element," HA explained, "turns the CBO's current deficit raising cost projection for repeal from $137 to $353 billion negative to $449 to $665 billion positive." It's no wonder embarrassed Republicans don't want CBO scoring their new repeal legislation, or just don't want CBO at all.
But the Republican crusade against Congressional calculus hardly ends there. Consider, for example, the Republican effort to brand President Obama's 2009 stimulus program a "failure" that "not create a single job." While GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was touring the country propagating the "Obama made the economy worse" fraud, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf was calmly bludgeoning the fabulists of the Republican Party.
As the Washington Post reported in June 2012, the House Budget Committee heard testimony from the CBO chief answering a simple question: did the $787 billion Obama stimulus work? Unfortunately for Republican propagandists, Elmendorf clearly refuted Mitt Romney's claim that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was "the largest one-time careless expenditure of government money in American history."
Under questioning from skeptical Republicans, the director of the nonpartisan (and widely respected) Congressional Budget Office was emphatic about the value of the 2009 stimulus. And, he said, the vast majority of economists agree.
In a survey conducted by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, 80 percent of economic experts agreed that, because of the stimulus, the U.S. unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been otherwise.
"Only 4 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed," CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told the House Budget Committee. "That," he added, "is a distinct minority."
Not content with that response, Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp tried again. "Where did Washington mess up?" Huelskamp demanded. "Because you're saying most economists think it should've worked. It didn't." As the Post's Lori Montgomery detailed, Elmendorf drove home the point:
Most economists not only think it should have worked; they think it did work, Elmendorf replied. CBO's own analysis found that the package added as many as 3.3 million jobs to the economy during the second quarter of 2010, and may have prevented the nation from lapsing back into recession.
That May, Elmendorf's agency released its latest assessment of the stimulus showing why. At its peak in 2010, the ARRA added up to 3.3 million jobs, cut unemployment by as much as 1.8 percent and boosted GDP by up to 4.1 percent. It's also worth noting that the CBO once again confirmed that aid to the states and purchases by the federal government delivers the biggest bang for the buck, while upper income tax cuts provide the least.
Now, few things are as near and dear to the conservative heart as tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. But sadly for the GOP's supply-side snake oil salesmen, the CBO has time and again debunked right-wing rhetoric insisting that massive windfalls for the wealthy from Uncle Sam pay for themselves and fuel job creation and economic growth.
During and after the stimulus debate, CBO advised that rate reductions for the rich provided the worst "multiplier" of any ARRA program. Then as the nation approached the so-called "fiscal cliff" at the end of the 2012, CBO explained that increasing taxes on the top earners would have virtually no impact on the economy at all. As I noted in November 2012:
In its report ("Economic Effects of Policies Contributing to Fiscal Tightening in 2013"), the CBO warned that the deficit-slashing effects of allowing the Bush tax cuts expire, ending the two-year payroll tax holiday and letting last year's budget sequestration deal proceed on January 1, 2013 could return the United States to recession. The combination of spending cuts and tax increases could reduce gross domestic product by 2.9 percent and drive the unemployment rate from 7.9 percent today to 9.1 percent by the end of next year.
But as Dylan Matthews explained in the Washington Post, letting upper-income tax rates return to their slightly higher Clinton-era rates (as President Obama has proposed) will play no part in that instant austerity. While extending the Bush rates for all Americans carries a $330 billion overall price tag for Uncle Sam next year, the CBO calculated that $42 billion goes to the top taxpayers...Eliminating that Treasury-draining windfall for the wealthy (by raising rates for the top-two tax brackets, indexing the AMT and raising capital gains, dividend and estate taxes), would slice only 0.1% from economic growth next year.
Making matters worse, CBO analyses (and decades of American history) have made a mockery of that central pillar of GOP economic orthodoxy, "tax cuts pay for themselves." To battle reality's well-known liberal bias, Republicans declared war on math itself.
That's why in 2012, 2013, and again in 2014, Republicans in Congress sought to require that the CBO use so-called "dynamic scoring" to make their budget-busting tax cuts miraculously work. That's why House Republicans proposed H.R. 3582 (the "Pro-Growth Budgeting Act") last year to require that the CBO estimates also use dynamic scoring to incorporate "supply-side assumptions about the growth-generating magic of tax cuts into official budget estimates, enabling conservatives to evade the deficit-boosting implications (and various congressional barriers that come along with them) of their pet proposals for reducing the tax burden of 'job creators.'" In September 2014, Paul Ryan promised the Wall Street group, the Financial Services Roundtable, "I'd like to improve our scorekeeping so it better reflects reality." By "improve our scorekeeping," Ryan means forcing the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to change the way it forecasts (or "scores") the impact of tax and budget legislation. And by "better reflects reality," Paul Ryan means rigging the outcome so GOP tax-cutting bills don't appear to hemorrhage the red ink they inevitably must. As he lamented at the time, "he scorekeeping we use is not correct."
After the GOP captured the Senate during the 2014 midterms Ryan got his wish. In 2015, Ryan and the Republicans got their dynamic scoring requirement for all budget-related legislation. And they got a new Republican CBO Director, Keith Hall, to implement it.
But in August 2015, the GOP's hand-picked successor to the much praised Douglas Elmendorf delivered some bad news for Republican practitioners of "Unicornomics."
"No, the evidence is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves," Hall said in response to a reporter's question. "And our models that we're doing, our macroeconomic effects, show that."
Now, for the overwhelming majority of economists, or just about anyone familiar with the U.S. budget since Ronald Reagan first took the oath of office, Hall's conclusion is about as close to a self-evident truth as his profession can offer. According to a 2012 survey conducted by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the nation's leading economists would have given Arthur Laffer's magic tax cut thesis an "F." In a nutshell, not a single one of the economists surveyed agreed that "a cut in federal income tax rates in the US right now would raise taxable income enough so that the annual total tax revenue would be higher within five years than without the tax cut." In his comments, David Autor of MIT pointed out, "Not aware of any evidence in recent history where tax cuts actually raise revenue. Sorry, Laffer." Former Obama administration economist and current University of Chicago professor Austan Goolsbee put it this way:
Moon landing was real. Evolution exists. Tax cuts lose revenue. The research has shown this a thousand times. Enough already.
Bit for the budget alchemists of the GOP, it's never enough. In 2013, former South Carolina GOP Senator turned Heritage Foundation President Jim Demint fired a new broadside at the Congressional Budget Office. This time, the issue was immigration reform.
Appearing on ABC's This Week that May, Demint warned that immigration reform "will cost Americans trillions of dollars." Unsurprisingly, he declared he had proof from the book-cookers at his organization. "The study you'll see from Heritage this week presents a staggering cost of another amnesty in our country." And why would the Heritage Foundation see the need for its own forecast?
"Well, CBO said Obamacare wouldn't cost us anything. They're basically puppets of the Congress and the assumptions they put in the bill. Heritage is only organization that has done an analysis on the cost."
Of course, there are only a few problems with Demint's demagoguery. For starters, the CBO never said the Affordable Care Act "wouldn't cost us anything." Instead, the nonpartisan scorekeeper merely found that the ACA's new tax revenue and savings from elsewhere in the budget would result in a reduction in the U.S. national debt. Needless to say, that's not what Republicans wanted to hear, which is why House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) accused the CBO of "budget gimmickry" and Newt Gingrich called for abolishing the agency altogether.
Making Demint's case even worse is that other conservative groups have echoed the CBO assessment that an immigration reform package like the one now under consideration in the Senate would prove a boon to American taxpayers. The extra costs of benefits including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the CBO explained, would be more than offset by the increasing size of both the U.S. labor force and its economy:
Cost estimates produced by CBO and JCT typically reflect the assumption that macroeconomic variables such as gross domestic product (GDP) and employment remain fixed. However, because S. 2611 would have had the direct effect of significantly increasing the size of the U.S. labor force (resulting in an estimated 3.4 million additional workers in the United States by 2016), CBO and JCT relaxed that assumption and incorporated in the cost estimate the direct effect of the bill on the U.S. population, employment, and taxable wages.
As Politico reported, former CBO chief and McCain economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin made a similar case:
His group put out a paper that concluded immigration reform would speed the pace of economic growth and could reduce the deficit by $2.5 trillion. The growth will come because immigrants will participate in the labor force at higher rates, according to the analysis, but also because they're more likely to own small businesses.
Jim Demint had one other problem. Even many Republicans blasted his own organization's comical estimate that immigration reform legislation under consideration would cost the United States $6.3 trillion by 2050. As Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake put it, "Here we go again."
Here we go again, indeed. Just weeks after the Urban Institute concluded that the GOP's "repeal and delay" strategy for Obamacare would leave some 30 million more Americans without health insurance and "moves the country to a situation with higher uninsurance rates than was the case before the ACA's reforms," Keith Hall's CBO found much the same thing. (That tens of thousands of newly uninsured people would needlessly die each year as a result wasn't part of either analysis.) In the face of that disturbing message from Congress' own budget referee, Republicans like Newt Gingrich want to kill the messenger. Why?
It is a left wing, corrupt, bureaucratic defender of big government, and liberalism. Its scoring of ObamaCare was not just wrong, it was clearly corrupt.
| January 15, 2017
The Simple, Sinister Reason for the GOP's Never-ending War on Obamacare
House and Senate Republicans this week took the first step this week towards the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But without a replacement program in place, the GOP is nevertheless prepared to withdraw health insurance from up to 30 million Americans and jeopardize coverage for over 20 million more. While millions will face the prospect of financial ruin, Republicans will condemn tens of thousands of the newly uninsured to needless deaths--every year. Meanwhile, many hospitals, physicians and insurers will be trapped in a market "death spiral" Republicans alone will be responsible for creating. If President Trump, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan succeed, theirs will be the greatest act of political spite in American history.
The question is why. This isn't about a "better way" to enable health care for all; Republicans don't have any way, period. The demolition of the ACA isn't about "freedom" or "choice," either; by providing coverage and protecting Americans from the worst depredations of the insurance industry, Obamacare enhances personal freedom. (For those decrying insurance mandates, think again about your payroll taxes which help buy you a retirement pension and old-age health care.) And to be sure, the GOP isn't upholding the sanctity of the "free market"; the ACA has brought millions of new customers to private insurers, private hospitals, private physicians and private pharmaceutical firms.
The answer is simple, sinister and no different now than when Bill Clinton first took the oath of office 24 years ago. As I first explained on "The Real Reason for the GOP's All-Out War on Obamacare" on August 11, 2013, Republicans have never feared that Democratic health care reform would fail, but that it would succeed.
Continue reading here.
| January 9, 2017
The Republicans' Trillion-Dollar Obamacare Repeal Scam
On March 23, 2010--the very day President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into low--then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced his party's objective would be to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. But now, almost 7 years later, McConnell and Congressional Republicans finding it extremely hard to do either. And soon the task for Majority Leader McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and President-elect Donald Trump will get about a trillion dollars harder.
Developments over just past few weeks show why. For starters, a complete repeal of Obamacare now would leave an estimated 23 million more Americans without health insurance. Delaying it by up to four years past the 2020 election--as some Republicans are now contemplating--would be even worse, with a staggering 30 million people losing coverage as the individual market would enter a real "death spiral." With the repeal of the ACA's consumer protections like the ban on insurers' refusing to issue policies to those with pre-existing conditions, roughly 52 million Americans (27 percent of those under age 65) could find themselves at risk. As a result, millions currently insured under Obamacare would face the prospect of postponed care and possible financial ruin. The GOP's body count would be a gruesome one, too: tens of thousands of those left uninsured would needlessly die each year. It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump's own supporters, a group that will be disproportionately hit by the Obamacare repeal, are increasingly worried that the 45th President will effectively become a one-man death panel. And it's no wonder that organizations of doctors, hospitals and insurers have issued warnings about euthanizing the ACA without a replacement plan in place.
But Republicans don't have an Obamacare replacement plan. Even as Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) introduced a resolution Wednesday calling the elimination of the ACA's spending and revenue-raising provisions, Speaker Ryan could only promise the GOP would not "pull the rug out from anybody" so that "so that no one is left out in the cold, so that no one is worse off." Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway was more specific about the GOP's nonexistent plan, pledging "we don't want anyone who currently has insurance not to have insurance." But those guarantees will cost money. And as it turns out, the Republicans have already promised the $1 trillion in savings from cancelled Obamacare outlays for something and someone else: a massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy.
Congressional Republicans have been playing this shell game since before the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land. From its earliest estimates in 2009, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has always forecast that Obamacare would reduce the national debt. The math has always been straight-forward. The ten-year cost of Obamacare (for Medicaid expansion, insurance subsidies, etc.) has always been less than revenue generated by new taxes imposed by the ACA and the significant savings extracted from Medicare insurers and providers. (See the chart at the top of the page.) That's why CBO in June 2015 explained that repealing Obamacare would add "at least $137 billion or as much as $353 billion" in new deficits over the ensuing decade. As Sarah Kliff summed it up at the time:
"No matter how CBO scores it, Obamacare reduces the deficit."
(It was that inconvenient truth which prompted then House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) Eric Cantor in 2011 to denounce the agency's supposed "budget gimmickry." Former Speaker and 2012 GOP White House hopeful Newt Gingrich went even further, declaring "if you are serious about real health reform, you must abolish the Congressional Budget Office because it lies.")
For Republicans, the flip-side is also true. No matter how CBO scores it, repealing Obamacare increases the deficit.
Unless, of course, you don't actually repeal all of Obamacare. If Republicans cancel all of the Affordable Care Act's spending on Americans' health but pocket all or most of its savings, they can put towards something they really care about. Like tax cuts for rich people.
Using data and forecasts from CBO, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CFRB) this week showed provided a helpful summary of the math behind various scenarios for the repeal of Obamacare. While eliminating its coverage provisions saves $1.55 trillion over 10 years, the fate of the ACA's funding its more complicated:
Revenue Provisions - About half of the $800 billion of revenue loss from repealing ACA's taxes comes from removing the 0.9 percent Medicare payroll surtax on wages above $200,000 ($150 billion) and the 3.8 percent surtax on investment income above the same threshold ($250 billion). Another quarter of the revenue loss comes from repealing various fees on insurance companies, medical device companies, and drug manufacturers. Repealing the "Cadillac tax" on high-cost insurance plans costs $100 billion over a decade; those costs are slated to grow substantially over time, and repealing the Cadillac tax without a replacement would also remove a key tool in helping to slow overall health care cost growth.
Medicare Provisions - Of the $1.10 trillion of costs from repealing the ACA's Medicare (and related) cuts, roughly $450 billion would come from reversing Medicare Advantage cuts and roughly $500 billion would come from ending reductions in the growth of provider payments in fee-for-service Medicare. Our repeal estimates assume that the reductions in Medicare provider payments already implemented under the ACA are retained and repeal only prevents future cuts. If past cuts are also reversed, repeal could cost $200 billion to $250 billion more over a decade.
(It should be noted that doing away with the Obamacare surtax on investment income alone is a major win for the wealthy. Overall, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found "that the top 1 percent of earners would get an average tax cut of $33,000 if Obamacare is repealed -- and those in the top 0.1 percent would get an average tax cut of $197,000" as a result of the repeal of the ACA's tax provisions.)
Recently, the Kaiser Family Foundation documented the Implications of repealing the Affordable Care Act for Medicare spending and beneficiaries. The good news is that the GOP has no intention of giving back all of those savings to private Medicare insurers, hospitals and doctors. And we know this, because Republicans told us so in 2015.
As you may recall, it was a year ago today that President Obama vetoed a Congressional budget which included H.R. 3762, also known as the "Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act." When CBO scored H.R. 3762, it told Chairman Enzi that its Obamacare "repeal" provisions would reduce deficits by $474 billion between 2016 and 2025. Conservatives were overjoyed. As Hot Air's Ed Morrissey ("CBO: Obamacare repeal bill would reduce deficits by half a trillion dollars over 10 years") and the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin ("The Congressional Budget Office has found that repealing Obamacare is a big money-saver") showed, right-wingers were especially excited that they can now pretend that killing the Affordable Care Act will save Uncle Sam money. In a December article titled, "Obamacare Repeal Would Cut Deficit, Boost Growth - CBO," Investor's Business Daily crowed:
A little-noticed report released Friday afternoon by the Congressional Budget Office shows that the Senate bill to repeal most of ObamaCare would cut the deficit by as much as $474 billion, while boosting GDP, investment and capital stock.
The findings stand in sharp contrast to promises by President Obama and other Democrats that ObamaCare would accelerate economic growth and lower federal deficits.
But in referring to the repeal of "most of ObamaCare," IBD skipped over what Health Affairs rightly called "the $879 billion footnote." As that magic footnote in the legislation drafted by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Burr (R-NC) declares:
All provisions of PPACA and HCERA are repealed except for the changes to Medicare." (Emphasis added). [Note: PPACA and HCERA are the two statutory components of the law now known as the ACA -- or Obamacare.] [Emphasis mine.]
That difference, it turns out, makes all the difference. "Saving that single element," HA explained, "turns the CBO's current deficit raising cost projection for repeal from $137 to $353 billion negative to $449 to $665 billion positive."
A critical element of the ACA's financing involves Medicare payment reductions in title 3 of the law to hospitals, insurance companies, home health agencies, and other health care providers (physician payments in Part B were unaffected) to reduce Medicare's rate of spending growth. The resulting savings help to finance the private insurance and Medicaid coverage expansions in ACA titles 1 and 2. In its first 10 years (2011-2020), CBO estimated these title 3 savings at $450 billion; in its recent June estimate, it projects the savings at $879 billion between 2016 and 2025.
The question, then, is this: What will Republicans do with that $879 billion in savings over 10 years (now estimated to be $1.1 trillion between 2018 and 2027)?
If you guessed "fund an Obamacare replacement program," you'd be wrong. Instead, those savings will go to help pay for the GOP's staggering $6 trillion tax cut. In one form or another, that Treasury draining tax cut has been in every Paul Ryan-authored House GOP budget since 2011. In 2012, Mitt Romney appropriated those same Medicare savings for his gigantic tax rate reduction. In 2016, Paul Ryan in his "Better Way" program put those same dollars towards rewards for the very rich. Donald Trump similarly promised them to the gilded class. And while Now, there are certainly differences between Ryan's and Trump's tax plans, especially regarding their treatment of multinational corporations, the New York Times explained:
There is certainly a significant overlap. Both would cut income tax rates across the board and keep rates low on income from investments, an approach intended to spur savings that effectively guarantees the juiciest cuts for the wealthy.
An analysis of Mr. Trump's latest plan by the Tax Policy Center calculated that the top 0.1 percent of the population, those with incomes over $3.7 million in 2016, would receive an average 14 percent reduction, or about $1.1 million. Households in the middle of the scale -- those earning between about $48,000 and $83,000 today -- would get a 1.8 percent tax cut worth on average $1,010, while the poorest fifth of Americans will gain about $110, or 1 percent of their income.
It's bad enough that the President-elect Trump and Congressional Republicans will make off with Obamacare's Medicare savings to partly offset their windfall for the wealthy. Making matters worse is that in 2016 Paul Ryan, the same Paul Ryan proposing to ration Medicare by turning into an under-funded voucher scheme, has decried the administration's "$800 billion raid of the program" which he summed up this way:
"Obamacare's plan for Medicare was to raid and ration."
If that slander sounds sickeningly familiar, it should. Despite their nefarious uses of those same Medicare dollars saved by Obamacare, Republicans in 2010 and again in 2014 successfully ran against Democrats as supposed "Medicare killers," as this ad attests:
"By voting for ObamaCare, Democrats like Mark Pryor, Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu and Mark Begich cut $717 billion from Medicare -- including $154 billion from Medicare Advantage -- which will hurt seniors."
Fear-mongering like that helped the GOP capture the House in 2010 and the Senate four years later. Now, Vice President-elect Mike Pence tells us, "The first order of business is to keep our promise to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the kind of healthcare reform that will lower the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government." As for what that what that replacement might be and when it will be unveiled, no one in the GOP has the answer to the trillion-dollar question.