The GOP plan to gut health care would be a catastrophe for the country, so the new GOP plan is to attack the government agency that keeps saying so.
Republicans really, really, really want Americans to think their health care "plan" would not be a disaster for the country.
Unfortunately for them, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said otherwise. Repeatedly. The House and Senate versions would kick millions off their insurance, increase the cost of health care, and allow insurers to refuse coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions.
So the House Freedom Caucus — the uber-conservative wing of the Republican Party — has decided to do something about it. No, they're not looking to scrap the plan and come up with something better. They're looking to scrap the CBO.
North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the caucus, said his group will introduce a new amendment to a spending bill to cut the CBO's staff by 89 people and instead rely on an aggregation of "think-tank" analyses. That would mean relying on hyper-partisan analysis from organizations like the Heritage Foundation that have runs a years-long campaign to undermine Obamacare.
"They’re the one group that makes a weatherman’s 10-day forecast look accurate," Meadows said of the CBO.
It's an appalling attack on the nonpartisan group that Republicans used to praise when they wanted to attack Democratic legislation.
But that's changed since Republicans control the White House and Congress. Donald Trump and his party have launched a vicious campaign against the organization, trying to undermine its credibility and authority. In June, the White House even released a video attacking the CBO's scoring of the health care bill.
On Friday, eight former CBO directors sent a letter to House and Senate leaders defending the CBO's methods and the important role it plays in scoring proposed legislation.
"We write to express our strong objection to recent attacks on the integrity and professionalism of the agency and on the agency’s role in the legislative process," they wrote. They added:
In sum, relying on CBO’s estimates in the legislative process has served the Congress — and the American people — very well during the past four decades. As the House and Senate consider potential policy changes this year and in the years ahead, we urge you to maintain and respect the Congress’s decades-long reliance on CBO’s estimates in developing and scoring bills.
Instead, the response from congressional Republicans is quite the opposite.
It's a dirty trick and part of an ugly pattern to undermine credible people and institutions, instead preferring the kind of pro-GOP spin that misleads the public. Each of the GOP's proposed repeal and "replace" bills have received unequivocally negative scores from the CBO. That's not because of some unfair agenda; it's because the GOP bills really are that bad.
If Republicans don't like the CBO's conclusions about their bills, the right thing to do is come up with a better plan. But after seven years of running on promises of repealing Obamacare, without actually proposing a real alternative, the GOP has nothing better to offer.
The message on their health care plan is clear: It's a bad plan that will hurt millions. But instead of trying to fix it, they'd rather kill the messenger.