Search Results for: cbo

Sen. Collins and CBO Dim Prospects for Graham-Cassidy

UPDATE: As the Washington Post reports, Graham-Cassidy is pretty well dead:

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who had been overseeing a raucous hearing on the proposal, said Monday evening that he would only allow one more round of questions given the bill’s predicament.

“Let’s face it, we’re not getting anywhere,” he remarked.

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This cartoon is a few weeks old, but no less relevant.

Senate Republicans have managed to unite virtually the entire healthcare industry in opposition to their latest Obamacare repeal attempt. On Monday afternoon, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced its initial review of the Graham-Cassidy legislation at about the same time that Maine Sen. Susan Collins voiced her intention to vote no on the bill.

The decision by Sen. Collins is the proverbial nail in this coffin. And as National Public Radio (NPR) reports, the CBO’s new partial analysis of Graham-Cassidy gives Collins and other dissenters good reason to say “NO”:

The proposal the Senate is considering that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will result in millions losing health insurance and a $133 billion reduction in the deficit by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the Graham-Cassidy legislation.

The CBO did not have enough time to estimate specifically how many people’s insurance would be affected as they have done when they have scored previous repeal bills. But, the analysis it released Monday evening says, “the number of people with comprehensive health insurance that covers high-cost medical events would be reduced by millions” compared to current law. [Pols emphasis]…

…CBO says it can’t do a complete analysis of the plan in the short window requested by lawmakers. Senate Republicans are looking to vote on the bill this week, before a deadline at the end of September would require they get support from Democrats to be able to pass the legislation.

Earlier proposals to overhaul the health care system failed in part because the CBO analyses showed tens of millions of people were likely to lose insurance coverage because of the proposed changes. The major drivers of those losses, according to the CBO, were the loss of the individual mandate that requires people to buy insurance and the rollback of the expansion of Medicaid that was allowed under Obamacare.

The latest proposal includes both provisions, so some analysts say the results will be the same.

Senate leadership is still trying to figure out what to do with Graham-Cassidy, but Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said this afternoon that he doubted there would even be a floor vote on the legislation.

CBO Report: Huge Premium Spikes if Trump Stops ACA Subsidies

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a new analysis today of the impact on health insurance premiums should President Trump follow through with threats to stop funding federal subsidies for Obamacare. As CNBC reports:

Obamacare premiums for the most popular types of plans will sharply increase — by 20 percent next year, and by 25 percent in 2020 — if President Donald Trump ends key federal subsidies to the program, the Congressional Budget Office warned Tuesday in a new analysis.

The finding is certain to ratchet up pressure on Trump, and his Republican allies in Congress, to continue funding the payments to insurers, which reimburse them for discounts offered most Obamacare customers in their out-of-pocket health costs.

The CBO estimated there would be 1 million more Americans without health insurance next year than there are now as a result of such a decision by Trump to end the so-called cost-sharing reimbursements.

But, by 2020, there actually would be 1 million fewer uninsured Americans because of that decision, the report said.

On top of that, killing those payments to insurers would result in an extra $194 billion added to the federal deficit, the CBO report said

While less money would be spent on the CSR payments, the government as a result would be required to spend even more money to offset the spike in premiums borne by most Obamacare customers, CBO said.

Congressional Republican plans to repeal Obamacare have consistently been shot full of holes by the CBO in recent months, and this new analysis continues that trend.

Senate GOP Now 0-for-3 on CBO Scores

UPDATE: As Politico reports, Senate Republicans aren’t really getting close to coming up with a plan anyway:

Republicans felt somewhat buoyed by Wednesday’s White House meeting and late-night senators-only gathering, which left them feeling as though they’re making progress and that nearly every GOP senator is trying to get to yes.

But the math is increasingly working against them, with four Republican senators having announced opposition to starting debate — though the bill could further change — and more unannounced but likely nos. Key Senate Republicans were set to meet again on Thursday afternoon, said Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), a critic of the GOP’s latest approach. But Heller won’t be there and said he’d said staff in his place.

Sen. John McCain’s diagnosis of brain cancer also has the GOP one vote down, or at least leaves a huge question mark regarding whether the beloved Arizona Republican would be able to make the trip back to Washington. And Heller said at a GOP lunch on Thursday, there was no clarity from GOP leaders on what the party would even be voting to debate next week.

“We didn’t have a firm commitment at lunch today,” Heller said. “We still can’t figure out what the first amendment is going to be after the motion to proceed.”

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Senate Republicans at work on healthcare legislation.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) today released a score on another version of healthcare legislation proposed by Senate Republicans. You’re forgiven if you are starting to find this all a little redundant.

As The Hill reports:

About 22 million people would lose health insurance coverage in the next decade under the most recent revision of the Senate’s ObamaCare replacement bill, according to a new Congressional Budget Office analysis.

Because the legislation retains two of ObamaCare’s taxes, the CBO estimates it would reduce the deficit by about $420 billion by 2026.

The number of uninsured is essentially unchanged from the original draft of the legislation released last month. It’s also far more than the uninsured rate under the Affordable Care Act. [Pols emphasis]

Premiums would rise under the legislation until 2020, when they would be about 30 percent lower than under the current law. But most older people would still face higher premiums than younger people, the CBO said.

Notably, the CBO did not score an amendment added to the bill by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would let insurers opt out of ObamaCare regulations as long as they also sell ObamaCare-compliant plans.

This newest CBO score, experts say, isn’t really worth much because it doesn’t include the Cruz amendment. Without addressing the Cruz amendment, the new-but-not-really-improved-BCRA would be about as devastating to American families as the original version that was scored in late June.

Senate Republicans now have three different CBO scores on three approaches to healthcare legislation — including a score released on Wednesday for a repeal-but-not-replace bill that would leave 32 million Americans without healthcare and would double premiums for just about everybody. The BEST CASE SCENARIO legislation from the Senate GOP would lead to 22 million people losing healthcare access.

Brauchler Calls CBO Estimate on Healthcare Bill a “Little Ridiculous”

(George Brauchler is now an expert on the CBO — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler weighed into the contentious debate about health care today, telling a conservative talk radio host that he’d “like to see them not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and get something done here.”

“I’d like to see the Republicans move forward, hopefully with Democrat help,” Brauchler told KNUS 710-AM’s Casey Bloyer, who was substituting for Dan Caplis. “And I’d like to see them not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and get something done here.”

Brauchler did not say if this means he’d support the U.S. Senate bill as written.

Brauchler said the CBO estimate that 22 million people would lose health insurance under the GOP bill was “a little ridiculous.”

“Now, that CBO scoring thing is a little ridiculous,” Brauchler told Bloyer. “If you’ve done any research on it, you can see that that 22 million people that won’t have insurance anymore, it’s not the same thing as kicking 22 million disabled and poor people off the rolls. That’s not what’s happening. So, I’d encourage people to go look at that.”

Brauchler did not say how many of the 22 million are legitimately disabled or poor.

Brauchler cited the political imperative to get Obamacare repealed.

“And this will be the sine qua non issue they use to try to tie everyone to Trump and try to blow up Republicans across the state,” Brauchler said on air. “And that is the failure of healthcare — either to get it done, or to do it wrong.”

Also during the interview, which is available here, Brauchler distinguished himself from some of his opponents by saying he did not come from a dynasty.

Here’s is Brauchler’s full statement on the health care bill.

Brauchler: “I think there’s a real battle here going on out in DC between those who want to get it as close to perfect as possible and those who feel like, ‘Look, we have got to do something. If we don’t live up to this promise –and the longer we delay, we feel like that’s in jeopardy — the more we’re going to call into question our ability to lead, given the fact that we have our hands on all the levers of government, and what is that going to look like as we head into 2018.”

Their ability to strike and get things done is narrow. It’s not all the way through November of 2018. I mean, by the time we hit the fourth quarter here of 2017, campaigns are going to be in full mode. You already see people jumping in on the Democrat side [for] every seat in Colorado, and they’re going to start to ramp up the rhetoric.

You can see people coming after Gardner. He’s not even up for reelection till 2020! But they want him, Coffman, the two open seats now — because there two other Congressmen who are jumping in to the Governor’s race. Both of those have multiple Democrat candidates vying for them. And this will be the sine qua non issue they use to try to tie everyone to Trump and try to blow up Republicans across the state. And that is the failure of healthcare — either to get it done, or to do it wrong.

So it’s a little bit of a precarious position. I’d like to see the Republicans move forward, hopefully with Democrat help. And I’d like to see them not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and get something done here. Now, that CBO scoring thing is a little ridiculous. If you’ve done any research on it, you can see that that 22 million people that won’t have insurance anymore, it’s not the same thing as kicking 22 million disabled and poor people off the rolls. That’s not what happening. So, I’d encourage people to go look at that.

CBO: Senate Trumpcare Bill Reduces Insured By 22 Million

UPDATE: 

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New York Times with the bad news for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Cory Gardner, and maybe you:

The Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026, a figure that is only slightly lower than the 23 million more uninsured that the House version would create, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Monday.

Next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured compared with current law, the budget office said.

The legislation would decrease federal deficits by a total of $321 billion over a decade, the budget office said.

The release of the budget office’s analysis comes as a number of reluctant Republican senators weigh whether to support the health bill, which the majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, wants approved before a planned recess for the Fourth of July…

Before the budget office released its report on Monday, the American Medical Association officially announced its opposition to the bill, and the National Governors Association urged the Senate to slow down.

Now, the budget office’s findings will give fodder to Democrats who were already assailing the bill as cruel. It could give pause to some Republican senators who have been mulling whether to support the bill — or it could give them an additional reason to come out against the bill altogether.

Savoring every morsel of disaster.

And for all that, as the Washington Post reports, the reality might be even worse:

For the Senate bill, the CBO’s estimates of insurance coverage and federal spending are influenced by the fact that its forecast covers a 10-year window and the legislation’s most profound changes for the nation’s health-care system are tilted toward the latter part of that period.

The bill would, for instance, leave in place the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid through 2020. After that, it would begin a three-year phaseout of the federal money that under the ACA has paid almost the entire cost of adding 11 million Americans to the program’s rolls in 31 states…

Over the weekend, the senior Democrat on the Senate subcommittee that oversees the CBO said in a tweet that he had asked the budget office to estimate the Senate bill’s effect on insurance coverage over a longer time horizon. “GOP is hiding the worst Medicaid cuts in years 11, 12, 13 and hoping CBO stays quiet,” wrote Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) [Pols emphasis]

Regardless of any clever accounting that might have been attempted to reduce the visibility of the pain, it’s clear now that the Senate’s Obamacare repeal legislation is no more defensible than the House’s bill. With only a small fraction more Americans protected, there’s little worry now about Republicans forcing us to debate between the House’s “worse” measure and the Senate’s “bad” one–they’re both really bad. That means the comparisons will be to existing law, meaning the status quo under the Affordable Care Act. The possibility that Senate Republicans might have gained leverage with a bill substantially less harmful than the House’s was one of the few real opportunities to break out of the present stalemate, but that is not what happened.

What we have now is legislation that almost certainly cannot pass the Senate. In his interview last week with Denver7 in which he admitted not being as involved in the drafting as we were led to believe, Sen. Cory Gardner laid out several conditions that the then-forthcoming bill would have to meet to gain his support: that the legislation reduce the cost of insurance, create “stability in the insurance markets,” and make Medicaid “sustainable.” It’s very difficult to argue that reducing the number of insured patients by tens of millions will bring “stability” to the market. As for making Medicaid “sustainable?” Unless that represents an abandonment of Gardner’s previous stated desire to protect Medicaid expansion patients, this bill won’t meet that test either.

The CBO’s estimate is bad enough that it could well doom this legislation before a vote even takes place, much like the CBO’s estimate of the first House bill forced Speaker Paul Ryan to pull that bill without a vote. At this point, the most politically face-saving outcome for Gardner would be for the bill to be pulled, which would leave Gardner in a position to say whatever he wants to say.

Otherwise, Gardner must take a vote that either damages GOP Senators he must defend next year as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, or damages Gardner personally. Either way, today’s news just underscores the folly of this whole effort. Ending the GOP’s seven-year campaign to destroy the Affordable Care Act would have negative long-term consequences for Gardner, since he has invested disproportionate political capital into vilifying the law.

But at this point, keeping his promise could be Gardner’s worst choice.

Tipton Doesn’t Believe CBO Score That Makes Him Look Terrible

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score of the GOP healthcare legislation (Trumpcare 2.0/American Health Care Act) late Wednesday, and the numbers are absolutely terrible for Congressional Republicans. Thursday’s front page of the Denver Post summed up the bad news in pretty stark terms, as you can see from the image at right.

Colorado Republicans took a variety of different approaches in response to the CBO score. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) — who voted YES on the bill earlier this month — talked about how the AHCA was “just the first step” in a long process of “replacing our flawed healthcare system.” Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), meanwhile, did his best to distance the Senate from the House healthcare bill altogether.

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) does not believe in UFOs, Bigfoot, or the CBO.

And then there’s Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), also a YES vote on the latest bill, who took a decidedly different approach in responding to the CBO score. Tipton’s full statement is remarkably obtuse, but his argument boils down to this: Tipton doesn’t believe the CBO score is accurate.

This is a completely illogical response, but since Tipton voted in favor of Trumpcare 2.0 before he even knew the impact of the bill, he doesn’t really have anything else to say in his defense:

“The CBO has a long history of making inaccurate predictions about the ACA and has acknowledged that its 2016 baseline measurement of the number of people insured was off by at least 5 million. Despite missing the mark, the CBO has used the inaccurate 2016 baseline as the measuring stick for coverage under the AHCA.”

Tipton says the CBO might have been off by “at least 5 million” people in its 2016 baseline measurement of uninsured Americans, which implies that the CBO score on the AHCA (Trumpcare 2.0) is mathematically inaccurate. Even if Tipton’s math is correct here, that still means at least 18 million more people would lose health coverage under Trumpcare 2.0 compared to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

“Additionally, the CBO cannot predict the decisions individuals will make when they are no longer forced by the federal government to buy an insurance product they don’t want.”

The Congressional Budget Office cannot predict the future, therefore it is worthless. This particular sentence does not end up making more sense if you re-read it again and again (trust us — we tried).

“As the House has worked towards repealing and replacing the ACA, my focus has been on the cost of health care, because measuring success by the number of people who are insured doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when most of these people can’t afford to use their insurance.”

This is dumb. The corollary here is that it makes more sense to measure the number of people who might end up with health insurance that is cheaper but doesn’t actually cover anything. You can also buy a used car for a couple hundred bucks; you won’t be able to start the engine, but look at how much money you saved!

“The AHCA is designed to give Coloradans more choice over their insurance plans, affordable premiums and deductibles, and better access to health care services.”

It may very well be true that the AHCA was “designed” to provide more choice in healthcare, more affordable premiums and deductibles, and better access to services. But that’s not what the AHCA actually does, and the CBO score makes this abundantly clear.

As political statements go, this response from Tipton is pretty awful. Tipton would have been better off following Rep. Buck’s lead by calling the AHCA just a “first step” in a longer process. Instead, Tipton decided to “shoot the messenger” — never a good strategy when it’s clear to most everyone else that the “messenger” isn’t the problem.

“Trumpcare 3.0” CBO Score Released: Another Bloodbath

UPDATE #2: Colorado Democrats weigh in via Denver7’s Blair Miller:

Two of Colorado’s Democratic members of the House, Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis, voted against the bill, and offered their critiques of the bill again following the CBO score.

“Congress should have found out what the bill did before they passed it,” Polis said. “The nonpartisan analysis reaffirms the danger of the Republican health care plan…It has every day consequences that could be the difference between wellness and sickness or even life and death.”

“The latest analysis from the Congressional Budget Office confirms how detrimental the Republicans’ health care bill is in terms of reducing coverage, reducing essential benefits and allowing for discrimination against those with preexisting conditions,” Perlmutter said.

Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver:

“Trumpcare is bad news for a lot of people, as the CBO has shown yet again,” DeGette said. “If this bill becomes law, it will ration care and put insurance companies back in charge. Millions of people will lose their coverage while the cost for others will go up – including those covered through employer plans. People can expect higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs for skimpy coverage that in many cases won’t include essential services such as maternity care and treatment for mental health and substance abuse. And those over age 50 will pay even more – that is, if they can afford the age tax that this plan would impose.

“President Trump promised that no American would lose health insurance under his plan and that he wouldn’t cut Medicare or Medicaid. This bad bill breaks those promises and spells disaster for countless Americans.”

“The onus is now on the Senate to prevent this damage,” DeGette said. “It was dangerously irresponsible for House Republican leaders to ram this bill through the House for a vote with no CBO score. If Republicans really want to provide better health care for Americans, they should work with Democrats on making improvements to the ACA rather than dismantling or sabotaging it.”

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UPDATE: Sen. Cory Gardner says don’t sweat the CBO score, that’s just those wacky House crazies:

The CBO score is regarding the House legislation, and the Senate is currently working on its own legislation to rescue Coloradans from the collapsing healthcare law. Obamacare has driven up costs and made it harder for middle class families to find access to quality and affordable care. Anyone who looks at the current healthcare system will see that Obamacare is not working. The status-quo is unacceptable, and Democrats and Republicans have a responsibility to put politics aside and act.

Okay then! Let’s see Gardner come up with a bill that 1. doesn’t kill as many people and 2. can pass the House.

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Trumpcare 3.0

Moments ago, the Congressional Budget Office released its score of the latest iteration of the American Health Care Act, a.k.a. “Trumpcare,” which passed the U.S. House before the score was released and is now laying heavy on the U.S. Senate.

Its effects can still be measured in, for lack of a better term, dead bodies:

CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017, as passed by the House of Representatives. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting that version of H.R. 1628 would reduce the cumulative federal deficit over the 2017-2026 period by $119 billion. That amount is $32 billion less than the estimated net savings for the version of H.R. 1628 that was posted on the website of the House Committee on Rules on March 22, 2017, incorporating manager’s amendments 4, 5, 24, and 25. (CBO issued a cost estimate for that earlier version of the legislation on March 23, 2017.)

In comparison with the estimates for the previous version of the act, under the House-passed act, the number of people with health insurance would, by CBO and JCT’s estimates, be slightly higher and average premiums for insurance purchased individually—that is, nongroup insurance—would be lower, in part because the insurance, on average, would pay for a smaller proportion of health care costs. In addition, the agencies expect that some people would use the tax credits authorized by the act to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks and that are not counted as insurance in this cost estimate…

CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under H.R. 1628 than under current law. The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 23 million in 2026. In 2026, an estimated 51 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.

One of the biggest concerns over the newest version of this legislation is the option by states to waive coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act–allowing red states to dramatically change the rules for pre-existing conditions:

[T]he agencies estimate that about one-sixth of the population resides in areas in which the nongroup market would start to become unstable beginning in 2020. That instability would result from market responses to decisions by some states to waive two provisions of federal law, as would be permitted under H.R. 1628. One type of waiver would allow states to modify the requirements governing essential health benefits (EHBs), which set minimum standards for the benefits that insurance in the nongroup and small-group markets must cover. A second type of waiver would allow insurers to set premiums on the basis of an individual’s health status if the person had not demonstrated continuous coverage; that is, the waiver would eliminate the requirement for what is termed community rating for premiums charged to such people.

You’ll recall that Rep. Mike Coffman, who trended toward support for this legislation right up until the vote, in the end voted no because of a “small percentage” of patients who he said could lose coverage for pre-existing conditions. As the CBO’s estimate shows, that “small percentage” could amount to millions of Americans.

All told, the new legislation is only slightly less harmful to Americans than the last version, and the negative effects are still plenty nightmarish to justify the overwhelming public opposition all polling is showing against the bill. Rep. Coffman may have dodged culpability in this latest version of “Trumpcare,” but most of the Republican caucus in the U.S. House including the other three Colorado Republicans are now saddled with this vote.

And for Sen. Cory Gardner, who is crafting the Senate version of this bill behind closed doors, the stakes just got even higher. Coming up with a plan that isn’t political suicide, but can manage to attract support from the hard-right House Republicans who just approved this disastrous bill, seems like a more impossible task than ever now.

Top Ten Stories of 2017 #9: The Obamacare Repeal That Wasn’t

One year ago, Republicans were preparing a legislative agenda to go along with majorities in both chambers of Congress and their newly-awarded control of the White House. Republican leaders were licking their collective chops in anticipation of passing one conservative measure after another, blissfully unaware that they would have to wait nearly an entire year before celebrating their first major legislative accomplishment.

There were so many big political headlines this year that it’s easy to forget how much one single issue dominated the discussion in the first 9-10 months. Repealing (and maybe replacing) the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was priority #1, 2, and 3 for Congressional Republicans and President Trump in 2017. The White House was guaranteeing repeal as early as March.

As weeks dragged into months, it became increasingly clear that Republicans had massively over-promised on repeal. But it wasn’t until Arizona Sen. John McCain announced his opposition to the “Graham-Cassidy” proposal in late September that Republicans finally threw in the towel on a grand repeal. Indeed, Republicans failed so miserably at crafting repeal legislation that McCain had to publicly denounce the effort on two separate occasions. Here in Colorado, Republican legislators came to this conclusion much sooner than their counterparts in Washington D.C.; by early February they had essentially abandoned efforts to cripple the state health exchange.

Ultimately, the GOP could never figure out how to write a coherent repeal-and-replace bill that didn’t make the healthcare market exponentially worse for tens of millions of Americans. And it wasn’t just political insiders who were getting fed up; angry Americans were lining up to voice their displeasure with one Republican proposal after another. President Trump did direct several steps geared toward slowly strangling Obamacare, and Republicans included a repeal of the so-called “Individual Mandate” as part of their giant mess of a tax plan, but a major legislative statement rejecting Obamacare never materialized (we’re not counting the meaningless House vote to approve an early version of repeal).

Republican ineptitude on repealing Obamacare was symbolized well by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which scored a half-dozen iterations of legislation that failed more often than Sean Spicer (for more examples, click here, here, here, here, here, and here). The debate shifted so completely that Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) spent much of the second half of 2017 doing damage control on their failed efforts at repeal.

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Republicans began the year insisting that repealing Obamacare was a mandate from the American voters after seven years of endless opposition to the ACA. They ended 2017 by admitting that it was a political negative to even talk about repealing the health care law. As Dana Milbank wrote for the Washington Post on December 20:

“I shouldn’t say this,” Trump said, “but we essentially repealed Obamacare.”

Republicans, in rushing the tax bill to passage, kept fairly quiet about the fact that they were killing the “individual mandate” and thereby removing the engine that made the Affordable Care Act work. In doing so, they threw the health-care system into chaos without offering any remedy. And Trump just claimed paternity of the destruction. [Pols emphasis]

Trump, in a Cabinet meeting earlier Wednesday, let his fleeting encounter with honesty get the better of him when he read aloud the stage directions that called for Republicans not to advertise that they were killing Obamacare. “Obamacare has been repealed in this bill. We didn’t want to bring it up,” he said. “I told people specifically, ‘Be quiet with the fake-news media because I don’t want them talking too much about it.’ Because I didn’t know how people would —.” Trump didn’t finish that thought, but he said he could admit what had been done “now that it’s approved.”

As the year comes to a close, it is telling that President Trump is trying hard to convince you that he and his fellow Republicans did in fact repeal Obamacare (they did not). Congressional Republicans are tired of being stuck in an endless loop of non-repeal, so perhaps they will just play along and let Trump believe that this is all over now.

They can only hope that American voters will be just as confused in November 2018.

Coffman didn’t want “healthcare issues” in tax bill. Will he vote for it anyway?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) has traveled his usual winding road on supporting Obamacare-repeal bills this year, even doing his usual U turn along the way.

And today, with the House set to vote on a tax bill that would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate and throw 13 million people off the health insurance rolls, including 225,000 here in Colorado by 2025, Coffman needs to decide once again what to do.

If Coffman prioritizes a partial Obamacare repeal over tax benefits (mostly) for the rich, he’ll vote against the tax bill, if you believe what he told KOA 850-AM’s April Zesbaugh Nov. 17.

Zesbaugh asked Coffman directly whether he thought repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate as part of the tax bill was a “bad idea.”

Coffman dodged the question, but said definitively that he prefers to “deal with the healthcare issues separately.”

Coffman: I prefer to deal with the healthcare issues separately.

Where there’s a savings from healthcare that’s as an offset, as if you do away with the individual mandate for Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, that there are a lot of people who are forced to buy insurance that will no longer buy insurance, and they will no longer have the subsidies. That’s where the savings is in that. (Listen below)

So Coffman explained the Republican logic, without taking a position on it or pointing out collateral damage, in the form of millions of people losing health insurance coverage.

He also did not say whether he’d vote for the tax bill if it ended up repealing the individual mandate.

The House version of the tax bill, which Coffman backed, did not include this provision.

And Coffman told Zesbaugh that he expected the final version of the tax bill to be “something closer to the House version.”

In terms of health care, that’s not the case. So Coffman is left with a choice.

Earlier this year, you recall, Coffman said he’d vote for a House Obamacare-repeal bill, which would have pushed millions off Medicaid health insurance. But the bill never came up for a vote.

Then Coffman voted against a similar Obamacare repeal bill, which passed the House but never cleared the Senate, thanks to the thumbs of Sen. John McCain of Arizona and others.

Next, Coffman indicated he’d vote for a repeal-Obamcare-later bill, under which the healthcare law would be repealed but the implementation of the repeal would come later.

Coffman told a 9News Marshall Zelinger he wanted the Obamacare repeal to be deep enough into the future so as not to “disrupt the markets” and would give Congress “adequate time” to replace it.

The Congressman didn’t offer a date when the markets wouldn’t be disrupted and Congress would have adequate time to come up with a replacement.

Listen to Mike Coffman on 850-KOA Nov. 17, 2017.

Sorry Beer Lovers, Tax Bill Won’t Make Your Suds Cheaper

Full price, so drink up.

As the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports:

They aren’t toasting yet, but Colorado beer-makers are abuzz about one piece of a tax package in Congress that would benefit brewers — especially the microbreweries that have become intrinsic to the state’s identity.

Under the Senate tax proposal, domestic breweries that produce less than 2 million barrels a year would see their taxes reduced from $7 to $3.50 per barrel for the first 60,000 barrels they produce per year.

If the measure passes — and that’s still a big if — it would be a boon for Colorado’s nearly 350 breweries, the overwhelming majority of which fall into that category.

Notwithstanding the fact that there is nothing in the legislation to replace the lost revenue from this tax cut, or for that matter any more than a token amount of the large revenue losses projected from the so-called “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”–the latest CBO estimate is a mere 12% of the bill is paid for–you might have the notion that halving the tax on the first 60,000 barrels from your favorite local brewer would at least lighten the load on a six-pack by a commensurate amount.

Except no, sorry:

“We have never positioned this bill as a bill that would give better prices to consumers,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Boulder-based Brewers Association. [Pols emphasis]

No discount for you, beer lovers: now brewer industry representatives cross-their-heart promise that they’re not going to pocket this extra money, but re-invest it–and the benefits will “trickle down” to beer consumers, much like a good craft brew itself within a couple hours of being drunk. Like so many of the tax breaks in this legislation, the losses in tax revenue are plain to see, while the benefits go to much smaller “targeted” groups of people opaque to everyone except the beneficiaries.

Who, unlike your average middle-class Joe Six Pack set to lose under this legislation, have really good lobbyists! So when you hear about the “beer tax break” at your local bar, and you probably will, let the boys know it’s not about the consumer side of the equation.

Get More Smarter on Cyber Monday (November 27)

Today only — everything on Colorado Pols is 73% off!!! It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Congress is back in session after the Thanksgiving Holiday with a jam-packed schedule waiting for them. As Politico explains:

December is shaping up to be the cruelest month for Republicans who control Capitol Hill.

Under enormous pressure for a legislative achievement, GOP senators will attempt to follow their House counterparts this week by passing a massive tax overhaul they can send to President Donald Trump by the end of the year.

At the same time, they’re dealing with Democrats to avert a Christmastime government shutdown. And that battle is complicated even further by an emotional fight over the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants…

…The to-do list, which Trump will discuss with top congressional leaders at a White House meeting on Tuesday, doesn’t end there. Lawmakers are butting heads over a third tranche of emergency aid for hurricane-ravaged areas. Key surveillance powers used by the National Security Agency need to be renewed. Funding for a health insurance program benefiting 9 million lower-income children is already long expired, with several states close to running out of cash.

 

► The Republican tax plan still winding its way through Congress is picking up near-unanimous disapproval from every group that studies the legislation. From the Washington Post:

The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Republicans are aiming to have the full Senate vote on the tax plan as early as this week, but the new CBO analysis showing large, harmful effects on the poor may complicate those plans. The CBO also said the bill would add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, a potential problem for Republican lawmakers worried about America’s growing debt.

Democrats have repeatedly slammed the bill as a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the poor. In addition to lowering taxes for businesses and many individuals, the Senate bill also makes a major change to health insurance that the CBO projects would have a harsh impact on lower-income families.

This tax proposal is absolutely awful. Period.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) throttled the GOP tax plan in the weekly Democratic address over the weekend.

 

► The next time you hear Colorado Congressional Republicans talking about how much they love wind power, remember this important part of the House tax bill. You should probably also keep in mind how Republicans are planning to screw over teachers.

Oh, and guess which sitting U.S. President stands to personally benefit from some last-minute changes to the Republican Senate tax proposal?

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Gardner’s Push for Trump to Unilaterally Dismantle Obamacare Is Coming to Fruition

(Like we said – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has yet to comment on Trump’s latest effort to deliver a body blow to Obamacare by eliminating insurance assistance for low-income people.

But in March, Gardner said he hoped Trump would use his presidential authority, ASAP, to dismantle Obamacare.

“We also, I believe, need the Administration to move forward with some of its executive actions,” Gardner told KHOW 630-AM’s Ross Kaminsky. “Those executive actions they can take won’t ever be scored by the Congressional Budget Office. That’s not what the Congressional Budget Office does. But if they take those actions, it could result in significant improvement in the current system.” [listen below]

You may recall, in the spring, the Congressional Budget Office estimated for the first time that tens of millions of Americans would lose health insurance under the House GOP’s proposal to repeal Obamacare. The uninsured would include hundreds of thousands in Colorado.

The specter of millions of Americans losing health insurance generated such coast-to-coast angst and blow back that the seven-year GOP effort to kill Obamacare seemed doomed to die in the House.

So that’s why a gloomy Gardner, calling Obamacare “a disaster for the American people,” was looking at how Obamacare could be rolled back without legislation. Without repealing the law, Trump could do a lot through executive actions, Gardner said, and, bonus, they won’t be scored by the CBO, so we won’t get the nonpartisan estimate of the resultant misery. Not to mention the headlines.

Fast forward to yesterday.

Trump signed more executive orders aimed at Obamacare, as Gardner hoped he would, but it turns out Gardner was wrong about the CBO–at least with respect to one of Gardner’s orders.

That’s because, a few months after Gardner’s radio appearance, Democrats asked the CBO to analyze what would happen if Trump eliminated Obamacare subsidies for insurance on the individual market. The CBO report was completed back in August, but it’s getting a lot of attention now, because it shows that Trump’s order will increase health insurance rates on the individual market by 20 percent in 2018 and that one million more Americans will lose insurance entirely next year, compared with current law.

Obamacare supporters say Congress can stop this chaos, without increasing the deficit, by providing the Obamacare funds that Trump wants to cut. They would be used to lower the cost of health insurance for low-income people, as Obamacare stipulates.

But Gardner will have to change his thinking drastically to get on board. To date, he’s backed everything and anything in Congress to kill Obamacare. And when it looked like Congress wasn’t going to be able to do it, he called on unilateral action by Trump.

Now, with the full repercussions of Trump’s orders out in the open will Gardner shift his position, break his alliance with Trump, and endorse bipartisan congressional efforts to fix Obamacare, rather then nuke it?

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The Greatest Tax Reform Proposal in the History of Never

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was the only Colorado Republican to press the ‘NO’ button on the budget today.

The House of Representatives today passed its 2018 budget resolution in a party-line vote, the first step for Congressional Republicans are they endeavor to mold some sort of amazing tax “reform” policy. Reps. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Doug Lamborn (R-Imbecile), and Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) voted in favor of the budget; Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was the only Colorado Republican to vote ‘NO,’ where he was joined by all three Democrats from the state’s delegation.

As The Hill reports:

In a 219-206 vote, lawmakers approved a budget resolution for 2018 that sets up a process for shielding the GOP tax bill from a filibuster in the Senate…

…The budget reconciliation rules would allow Republicans in the Senate to pass tax reform without any Democratic votes, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can only afford two defections.

Republicans used the same strategy for ObamaCare repeal but failed, and are hoping for a better outcome on taxes.

Yet there are already signs of trouble, with some Republicans questioning whether the tax proposal would add too much to the deficit, and others balking at plans to eliminate a deduction for state and local taxes. The tax plan is now estimated to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade, but that figure would grow if the state and local tax deduction is not eliminated. [Pols emphasis]

Trouble? Wait…you mean to say that Congressional Republicans aren’t unified about how to overhaul the nation’s tax laws?

The problem Republicans are facing with tax reform legislation is strangely similar to what they ran into with repeated attempts at repealing Obamacare: Lawmakers are starting to understand that what they’re being sold by GOP leadership is vastly different than what the tax proposal would actually accomplish. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and President Trump are in general agreement on a set of talking points that are about as authentic as a Rex Tillerson press conference. Trump and friends are trying to sell a 1988 Ford Taurus with talking points from a Ferrari dealership, and Republicans aren’t buying it:

Senator Paul is far from the only Republican confused by this new tax proposal. As NPR reports:

President Trump and congressional Republicans have pitched their tax plan as a boost for the middle class.

“The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with lawmakers in mid-September.

But analysts at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center who studied the proposal reached a very different conclusion. They predict that nearly three-quarters of the savings from the tax overhaul would go to the top 20 percent of earners — those making more than $149,000. More than half the savings would go to the top 1 percent — people who earn more than $732,800. [Pols emphasis] The tax breaks are even more tilted to the wealthy by the 10th year of the overhaul, when the Tax Policy Center projects nearly 80 percent of the savings would go to the top 1 percent of earners.

Republican leaders want to sell this proposal as a huge — YUGE! — benefit to the American middle class, but the math doesn’t add up. It’s no wonder that Senate Republicans are trying to get rid of a rule that requires a CBO score of legislation to be made public for at least 28 hours before a vote. Again, from NPR:

The tax benefits for the rich in the GOP plan are direct, obvious and easily quantified. Many of the promised benefits for the middle class, on the other hand, are indirect, speculative and uncertain…

So how do the tax plan’s supporters claim that it’s focused on the middle class? By highlighting speculative, indirect gains that are supposed to result from economic growth…

…Rather than simply promise that the government will cut the tax bill for working families — many of whom pay little income tax already — the GOP is arguing that its tax plan will promote growth, which in turn will boost employment, and over time result in higher wages. Break any link of that chain and the middle-class “winnings” end up in someone else’s pocket. [Pols emphasis]…

And so on, and so forth, until the middle class becomes so obscenely wealthy that they have to start lobbying for another round of tax cuts for rich people like them. This theory of “supply side economics,” or as it came to be known in the Reagan era, “trickle-down economics” does not work. We don’t have to speculate about whether or not it could work. It doesn’t. There is plenty of data to prove this. It is (again) no wonder why President Trump’s administration recently suppressed a 2012 report from the Office of Tax Analysis (OTA) that essentially lays bare the fact that this tax proposal would do the exact opposite of what Trump claims would happen.

The NPR story we cited above is an excellent resource for understanding the ins and outs of the Republican tax plan, but it’s a bit of a long read. For an even more briefer-er look, we put together this graphic to help you understand Republican math on healthcare and tax reform. If any of this makes sense to you, then you might be a Member of Congress:

Senate Republicans Don’t Repeal Obamacare (Again)

Donald Trump’s COS John Kelly.

The writing was on the wall yesterday, but CNN reports on the official announcement:

The Senate will not vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal Obamacare, Republican leaders announced Tuesday.

The decision is another blow to President Donald Trump’s attempts to repeal Obamacare, a long-time Republican campaign promise and a centerpiece of his legislative agenda. Trump is now also floating the idea of working with Democrats on changes to the health care law, repeating his budget deal he reached earlier this month.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met with lawmakers Tuesday to take stock of where his members are on the proposal and make the call once and for all if Graham-Cassidy, the latest bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, will get a vote in the Senate. The decision was that the votes simply weren’t there.

Let’s be honest: The votes have never been there.

Rep. Ken Buck – Still lying, but nicely

Representative Buck is a good communicator. His conversational skills were on display in his Sterling Town Hall on July 29, 2017.  He does not always tell the truth, and his point of view is limited to what one would expect from one of the ten most conservative members of the House of Representatives, and proud member of the ultra-right wing Freedom Caucus.  I’ve listed Buck’s lies and lies by omission below.

Buck handles these town halls well – he doesn’t get flustered when confronted, and  stayed in control with a crowd that was at least 50% Democratic and progressive. The impromptu town hall in Longmont got a little rowdier, but Buck still kept his cool.  I’d call the overall tone of the Sterling meeting “polite but firm” , for all parties involved.

Over the course of the  one hour town hall meeting, Buck and his constituents discussed the budget process, the health care bills past, present, and future, education, water law, Bitcoin and “crypto-currency”, renewable energy, constitutional convention, the VA hospital, and civility in politics. I’ve highlighted some of the places in which Representative Buck strayed from the truth.

  • At 22:59, during a renewable energy discussion , Buck said that he’s against mandates, not renewable energy, even though Colorado now gets 24% of its electricity from wind and solar, and wind turbine jobs are the fastest growing job category in the country. . He was unable to justify his statement that renewable energy is hurting Coloradans and costing them money.
  • At 30:00 Buck says he’s against unfunded mandates in education, but doesn’t commit to fund them.
  • At 39:00, Buck lies about how much ACA coverage cost in 2014. (ACA = $1800, wife’s plan =$108 – but not mentioning that the  Federal Government subsidizes all congressmembers health at 90%, so his remaining 10% cost would have been $180/mo). If you recall, Cory Gardner  tried to scam voters with this same BS, and was never able to show any proof that his ACA payment was more expensive than his private plan.
  • At 40:00 Rep. Buck says he wants to drive down costs of premiums & deductibles, but neglects to mention that the House AHCA bill would have driven those way up for consumers.
  • At 49:45 , he says we should encourage people to be healthier and drive down health care costs that way (but the bill he supported would have eliminated ACA’s preventative medicine coverage).
  • Buck told a LIE again at 51:13 when he said that the GOP congress “never attempted to repeal and replace” Obamacare. The GOP Congress voted over 50 times to “repeal the ACA, and Buck personally voted 3X since he was elected in 2014 to repeal the ACA.
  • Again, at 53: 00 when Buck is asked what can be done about the lack of civility in DC, he blames the media for publicizing sensational stories, not a Republican administration which refuses to work across the aisle, nor a President who models terrible and uncivil behavior.
  • At 53:30, Buck is asked about his book Drain the Swamp, and  if it is true that he wants to change the Constitution. He replies that he would like to have a Constitutional Convention, but only to get a balanced budget and term limits. Whew. It’s not like there are any Koch brothers or nuts out there who want a Con-con just to repeal the last two centuries of progress.

Ken Buck apparently also has access to the Trump White House connection to Breitbart public relations  services. Buck’s humorous “Cut the Debt” video

features Trey Gowdy, Mia Love, Ted Cruz, and other Congress members, and promotes his point of view that cutting the national debt is an urgent priority. It was a front page Breitbart story on 3/15/2017.

Ken Buck is still one of the most conservative members of Congress. People running against him need to confront him on policy and votes. He’s not stupid or undisciplined – he’s not going to curse anyone out or get into a sex or money scandal. He’ll be a formidable foe not least because he is so “nice” and “personable”. Candidates running against him need to be prepared to confront him on votes, policies, and facts, stay polite and respectful, but call his lies out when necessary.

Representative Buck has other town hall meetings scheduled. See his website for updates.