As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

AP Has "The Math"

You may have heard about the Associated Press citing an unnamed Democratic source to price the House Tri-Committee health care bill at $1.5 trillion dollars over 10 years, rather than the $1 trillion dollar number used by the Congressional Budget Office. This has seeped into the conservative mainstream and even other news outlets. Where is it coming from? Brian Beutler reports:

The Congressional Budget Office score of $1.04 trillion that the Democrats cite is the figure for the new health insurance "exchange."

However, that is a net figure, including about $237 billion in revenue raised from employer and individual mandates -- fees paid by those who don't provide or purchase care. Therefore, if you look at costs, the score on that is about $1.27 trillion.

There is also a separate piece of the bill covering Medicare. It includes about $350 billion in new spending (the biggest single piece is for the so-called "doc fix," which involves the payment rate to doctors under Medicare).

This looks to me like the AP worked up some analysis after the fact, once that unnamed Democratic source whispered in their ear. I'm not sure if I agree totally with it, but the Congressional Budget Office is generally seen as the arbiter on costs of legislation. If they have not completed its score, you call their bill a partial score. You don't throw out your own analysis and parcel out parts of the legislation and just put together your own numbers. Or that is, you can, but you might want to say they're your own numbers instead of the numbers. Really irresponsible journalism.

Question: when a CBO score is incomplete and favored toward conservatives, does the AP go rogue then and put its bean-counters to work reducing the cost?

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