I watched a bit of the House debate on ACA repeal this morning, and since I've already written two posts on GOP distortions about costs, I think I'm obliged to note that the Democrats aren't exactly covering themselves in glory, either. The Democrats seem to be struggling to come up with exactly the right way to describe what repeal would do, and sometimes they're really getting it wrong. Meanwhile, the GOP goes from bad to worse. (Sorry, but I'm not going to provide specific quotations here; it's just my notes from watching).
ACA repeal would, in fact, increase the deficit substantially, and more as time goes on. That's according to neutral accounting, and it's a totally fair point for Dems to make. However, it's more contentious to say that therefore repeal would be "expensive." And it's just wrong to say that repeal would mean costs to "the taxpayers" equivalent to the increases in the projected deficit. After all, repeal would in fact lower government costs, and eliminate some of the taxes included to pay for ACA. The relationship between ACA repeal and taxpayer obligations is a complicated one...there are both tax hikes and tax cuts, and spending increases and cost savings, in the health care law passed by the historic 111th Congress. And of course "taxpayers" are also citizens, who may save on insurance premiums if cost controls work or if they're eligible for subsidies, and save on heath care costs because their insurance works better. At any rate, in my view Democrats were pretty sloppy with their language about these things.
At least they seem to be trying. I saw two Republicans repeat the 10/6 myth, which was false in 2009 and absurdly false now. Beyond that and similar phony stories, Republicans seem to have nothing beyond sneering and hand-waving to deal with the perfectly reasonable CBO estimates.
It is worth noting, not that there's anything new here, that a party that really cares about deficits would take neutral projections that they're busting the budget seriously, and either have an extensive, fact-based refutation of CBO numbers -- or else propose offsets, as they would have had to do under PAYGO rules. Obviously, anyone who pays attention to their actions knows that Republicans are either indifferent to budget deficits or in favor of larger deficits, but it is worth pointing these things out, I guess.