Friday, October 9, 2009

Scoring Lorem Ipsum --- or the Senate Baucus health care bill

When the Congrssional Budget Office (CBO) scored (estimated the cost of) the Baucus health care bill in Senate, CBO placed a disclaimer in the report:
"CBO and JCT's analysis is preliminary in large part because the Chairman's
 mark, as amended, has not yet been embodied in legislative language."
What does that mean? It means that Senator Baucus's much hailed bill that is suppoed to save $81 billion over 10 years is nothing more than lorem ipsum. The text of the bill is a non-functioning place holder and the score of the bill could not be scientific because there is no legislative language directing how the health care would be reformed or how the government would pay for government run health care. To be more specific, if the Baucus bill was sitting on Obama's desk today, it could not be signed into law because it is not a bill, it is an advertisement for Obamacare, nothing more.
But this is all academic anyway. The Baucus bill mark up was political theatre. There is another bill in the Senate that looks more like the House bill with all the public options and rationing. When the time comes, the Baucus non-bill and the Reid-controlled Senate version of the House bill will be merged and the Baucus bill then have legislative text that looks nothing like the advertised non-text and will probably not have been scored by CBO. So much for the most transparent Administration and Congress ever.

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