JONATHAN COHN FEBRUARY 18, 2011
This just in (literally): The Congressional Budget Office has delivered an official estimate of what repealing the Affordable Care Act would do to the federal budget. According to CBO's estimates, the deficit would rise by $210 billion in the first decade:
H.R. 2 would, on net, increase federal deficits over the next decade because the net savings from eliminating the coverage provisions would be more than offset by the combination of other spending increases and revenue reductions.
In total, CBO and JCT estimate that H.R. 2 would reduce outlays by about $604 billion and reduce revenues by about $813 billion over the 2012-2021
This is twice the estimate the CBO made last year, when it projected the effects of a similar repeal bill. Why the difference? Because it's a year later and the projection period extends through 2021 rather than 2011. Remember, the law is designed to save more money as time goes on.
I haven't had a chance to read the estimate thoroughly, so there may be some wrinkles I'm missng now. But I assume the political conversation won't change much. Conservatives who think the CBO projections are unreliable will continue to do so. The rest of us will continue to argue, as we have, that the numbers represent as good a prediction as we have--and that the uncertainty runs in both directions.
I'll say more about the estimate once I've examined it more carefully. But if you want to inspect it for yourself, just click here.