The CBO score makes way for a Finance vote Tuesday on the $829 billion measure and helped build momentum for the Democrats’ effort since scorekeepers have determined other versions of the overhaul bill in the House and Senate would not slow the growth of healthcare spending or reduce the deficit like Baucus’ would. But moderate Democrats are not quite so sure.
Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., was skeptical of CBO’s analysis that the bill would be deficit neutral and reduce the federal deficit $81 billion without “some alternatives that actually have some teeth in them in terms of making sure that Congress honors the commitments of fiscal responsibility that are implicit in this bill.” Bayh is co-leader of the 16-member Moderate Dems Working Group.
Baucus’ proposal contains a “fail-safe” mechanism that requires cuts in premium subsidies if the implementation of the overhaul is expected to raise the budget deficit in the coming year. Bayh said he was glad the measure was in there but is not convinced the political will to make the cuts will be available come crunch time.
“Congress has proven not always so good at making fiscal decisions in the past, so it’s a tension between some of the legislative powers wanting to retain their discretion versus those of us who have grown rather skeptical about how that discretion’s been utilized in the past,” Bayh said.
“Trust but verify,” he added. . . .
Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., flat out said he does not believe the CBO numbers.
“I don’t know that outside the Beltway people believe those numbers,” Nelson said.
“The assumptions are pretty substantial,” he added.