While the Senate Finance Committee is congratulating itself on snowing a lone Republican and passing the Baucus bill out of committee and onto the floor, a lingering fact threatens to overshadow all the back-slapping and the toasts: The Congressional Budget Office projections indicate that, over the next 20 years, the Baucus bill would cost $3.6 trillion and would increase taxes on the American people by $2.3 trillion.
As my New York Post op-ed today details, all of the focus has been on the first ten years of the Baucus bill, but that’s because that’s where Sen. Max Baucus — a cagey political veteran — wants it to be. When one looks beyond the first ten years and the widely publicized cost of $829 billion, one finds that the second ten years are where the rubber hits the road. In its second decade, the Baucus bill would cost $2.8 trillion — three times as much as in the first decade. It would increase taxes by $1.8 trillion — three times as much as in the first decade. And it would pilfer $1.9 trillion from already-barely-solvent Medicare and related programs – four times as much as in the first decade. Again, this is according to the CBO’s projections.
The truth is, the real first ten years of the Baucus bill are from 2011 to 2020, not from 2010 to 2019 as advertised. In 2010, the CBO says the bill would cost $0. The first year that it would cost anything (and even then only $2 billion) is in 2011. If one uses 2011 as the starting point — and it would seem reasonable to start the tally where there’s actually something to tally — then the Baucus bill would cost over $1 trillion in its first decade and over $3 trillion in its second decade. That’s right, from 2011-30 — its real first 20 years — the Baucus bill would cost a cool $4 trillion.