I heard on some talk radio show that CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf had been invited to the White House for a little one-on-one time with the President. Ostensibly the purpose was for the CBO head to share ideas for cost-savings with the White House, but in reality it looked more like an attempt by Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel to tag-team the CBO and thus attempt to politicize what is designed to be a non-partisan umpire to the game of American politics.
No matter what the real purpose, the result appears to have failed.
As the Politico headline pronounces: CBO deals new blow to health pan. After the CBO’s first announcement that the new health plan wasn’t going to save money, the White House pushed a proposal that would give power to an outside group to make cuts. Between that and the pressure on the CBO the table was set for a sudden reversal. Instead Elmendorf stated:
In CBO’s judgment, the probability is high that no savings would be realized … but there is also a chance that substantial savings might be realized. Looking beyond the 10-year budget window, CBO expects that this proposal would generate larger but still modest savings on the same probabilistic basis.
The White House – via budget director Orszag – came out with a typically hopeful reply:
The point of the proposal, however, was never to generate savings over the next decade. … Instead, the goal is to provide a mechanism for improving quality of care for beneficiaries and reducing costs over the long term.
First of all: WTF, mate? No interest in savings over the next decade. That’s news to me and the American people. I guess as long as Obama thinks he can save money in the next century that’s great though, right? Secondly: the CBO didn’t guarantee substantial savings. They didn’t even say they were likely. They said they were unlikely but possible.
Do you know what else is possible? Winning the lottery.
Buy me a scratch-ticket, I’m going to balance the budget!!!