Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R., Iowa), the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, tells NRO that the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) score of the health-care bill sponsored by committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) has “a huge, untold story.”
As the Baucus bill heads for a vote next Tuesday, Grassley cautions that the CBO report is based only upon “conceptual language” and “the plain English of what the bill hopes to accomplish.”
“The conceptual language is the big caveat of the CBO report,” says Grassley. “When we get the stated legal language, things may vary quite a bit. The CBO analysis is preliminary, and just makes the Baucus bill, with all of its warts, seem a little better than the bills coming from Speaker Pelosi in the House and HELP,” the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
“The huge, untold story of this CBO report is that for the 85 percent of the people that have health insurance, their premiums will still go up because there will be a new tax on insurance policies,” says Grassley. “People may say, ‘What’s wrong with taxing insurance companies?’ but remember, corporations don’t pay taxes, people pay taxes. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation says that these premiums will be passed on.”
“Even though the CBO says the bill will cost $829 billion, a lot of its savings come from Medicare, which I don’t think is right,“ says Grassley. “We could also end up spending all of this money only to see taxes increase, and premiums increase, and still have 25 million people uninsured.”
“I don’t like [the Baucus bill], and I won’t for vote it,” says Grassley. “The Democrats think it looks so much better, but it still has got a lot of things in it that concern me. It has this federal mandate, which gives the federal government a massive new role in health care. It has an individual mandate, where if you don’t buy insurance, you end up paying a ‘penalty’ to the IRS. They don’t call it a tax increase, but don’t we pay taxes to the IRS?”
For now, Grassley says that he is working to convince centrist Democrats about the flaws in the Baucus bill and other plans. “Eight or nine Democrats seem to have some questions, for different reasons, that relate to the public option or trillion-dollar costs,” says Grassley. “When we already have a great deal of debt, if [centrist Democrats] really want to make changes, and don’t vote for cloture, then they have a real opportunity to force changes in this bill, to get rid of the radical elements.”