CBO Warns GOP: Repealing Health Care Reform Will Add $230 Billion To Deficit

January 06, 2011 10:02 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

House Republicans are breaking their own budget rules to advance the repeal of health care reform, so they're probably already aware that their plan will increase the deficit. For any remaining doubters, though, the Congressional Budget Office is here to settle the score. In a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), CBO Director Doug Elmendorf writes:

Because CBO and JCT estimated that the March 2010 health care legislation would reduce budget deficits over the 2010-2019 period and in subsequent years, we expect that repealing that legislation would increase budget deficits. The resulting increase in deficits projected for fiscal years 2012 through 2019 is likely to be similar in size to-but not exactly the same as-the reduction in deficits that was originally estimated to result from the enacted legislation.


As a result of changes in direct spending and revenues, CBO expects that enacting H.R. 2 would probably increase federal budget deficits over the 2012-2019 period by a total of roughly $145 billion (on the basis of the original estimate), plus or minus the effects of technical and economic changes that CBO and JCT will include in the forthcoming estimate. Adding two more years (through 2021) brings the projected increase in deficits to something in the vicinity of $230 billion, plus or minus the effects of technical and economic changes.

UPDATE: As Steve Benen reminds us, when the CBO issued a preliminary report in June 2009 estimating that health care reform could cost more than $1 trillion, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) called it "the turning point" in the debate. "You see, in his mind, a bad CBO score on a health care bill necessarily should necessarily kill the legislation," Benen writes. "Funny, I don't imagine Cantor will think that way today."