Politico Writer Health Care Advice to Obama: Ignore CBO

Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, wrote an incredibly bizarre article for Politico. He accurately declares that the biggest problem for the Obama administration's health care plan probably wouldn't be Republicans but the assessment by the Congressional Budget Office warning of a trillion dollar cost of the proposal. Zelizer's solution? Just ignore the CBO. Zelizer starts off firmly planted in the realm of reality:

The most potent threat to the Obama administration’s fledgling health may come not from the insurance industry or skeptical doctors but from the Congressional Budget Office.

Okay, good beginning, Julian. Just stay on track and try not to come to any sanity-challenged conclusions.

Earlier this week, CBO released preliminary estimates suggesting that the health care proposals — the most ambitious currently under discussion — from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee would cost $1 trillion and trim the number of uninsured by only 16 million.

With a few more reports like this, CBO could quickly prove more damaging to the administration’s health care efforts than could Republican attacks about “socialized medicine.”

You're dead on here. It will be very hard even for Democrat legislators to justify voting for a health care plan given such a thumbs down by the CBO. Now how about some background on the CBO with respect to health care proposals?

The last Democratic president found out the hard way. CBO proved a major thorn in President Bill Clinton’s side when his administration pushed health reform in 1993-94. Because of pay-as-you-go budget rules in place at the time, any new spending proposals had to be matched by offsetting cuts. CBO, under the directorship of the widely respected Robert Reischauer, repeatedly frustrated the administration by casting aspects of the plan in politically unappealing ways. Clinton’s proposed employer premiums were labeled a tax, which then-Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour and legions of GOP lawmakers and candidates seized on to repeatedly bash the president.

Interesting background material here on the CBO and the health care plan of 15 years ago although you let your bias show by using the word "bash" instead of "criticize" in the last sentence.

Sixteen years later, the Obama administration is pushing an ambitious and expensive health care overhaul just months after enactment of its massive economic recovery program that has already caused the size of the budget to explode. As CBO estimates about the high cost of the health care proposal emerge in coming months, Republicans will continue to pound Democrats about the impact on the deficit — the one issue on which the GOP finally seems to be gaining some political traction.

Shame on those killjoy Republicans for citing the CBO estimates about the high costs of the Obama plan. But Professor Zelizer, is the CBO just an arm of the Republican Party with its report about the costly impact of the plan?

The most profound challenge to President Barack Obama’s health care that CBO represents is its reputation for nonpartisan economic analysis. Once a figure is floated, it can be difficult for the administration to counteract politically. Trying to dispute technical details from CBO can quickly make voters’ eyes glaze over.

Whew! Thank you for that reassurance about the political integrity of the CBO. Therefore Obama should take seriously its budget impact report about his health care plan, right? Well, no. Fasten your seat belts now as Zelizer makes a flying leap off the cliff into the depths of unreality:

Obama can’t get trapped into a dry debate that is just about the numbers. Whatever form his final proposal takes, his best bet will be to keep public attention focused on the major objectives behind health care reform and the vital changes that will result from overhauling the system. This is what presidents can do well: shape the agenda and define a bill, rather than engage in an econometric numbers game with the experts huddled in CBO.

Yes, just ignore the CBO and its warnings about the incredibly large cost of the health care plan which will have minimal health care impact. So after some level headed reasoning, Zelizer goes ahead and totally blows his entire credibility in the final paragraph of his Politico article.  The commenters on his article were also amazed at Zelizer's complete divorce from reality as you can see:

Are you serious? How can you be so naive? I understand you are a university professor and therefore have difficulty understanding how the real world actually has to pay for things with real money, but honestly, how can you possibly think the way to success is to just ignore the numbers behind the bill? That is the polar opposite of responsibility, transparency and most of the other adjectives Obama used to get elected. Buying something without a plan to pay for it is what got the economy into this mess in the first place.

Look for Obama to get rid of the CBO like he's trying to do with various Inspectors General. Can't have anyone putting out information that might cause the public to actually examine Obama's policies.

Interesting strategy being advocated by the author....."try and trick the people into following regardless of the facts and the costs."

Article translation: The biggest obstacle to Obama's health care agenda is reality. Rather than let fact and figures get in the way, he should lie and otherwise try to obfuscate from the real consequences of his proposals.

And for some strange reason, your humble correspondent has a yearning to watch "The Nutty Professor" again.  

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.