No, Ezra Klein, Obamacare Will Not Reduce the Deficit
Ezra Klein, he of recent “the Constitution’s old, and stuff” fame, is one of the great and most persuasive cheerleaders for the belief that Republicans cannot repeal Obamacare and remain fiscally responsible since — as everybody knows! — Obamacare reduces the national debt by $100 billion over the next ten years. He makes his case here. Taking a slightly different but in many ways similar view in National Review Online, Avik Roy concedes that, purely as a matter of parliamentary process, Obamacare’s deficit-reduction features have to be taken into account. (Roy is no doubt correct in his analysis of the process questions.)
Klein makes a persuasive case, in the same way that a lawyer who knows his client is guilty makes a persuasive case. Yes, if we confine ourselves to a very narrow range of debate and a very narrow selection of possible outcomes, then Obamacare does reduce the deficit over the next ten years, and its repeal would add to it over that time.
But there is a bit more to the story than that.