President Obama insisted that any health care reform bill that passes must be deficit-neutral. That’s what he told ABC’s Jake Tapper on Nov. 9.
“I have actually said that it is important for us to make sure this thing is deficit neutral without tricks. I said I wouldn’t sign a bill that didn’t meet that criteria,” Obama said.
Just 3 days earlier, Obama officially endorsed H.R. 3962, the House health care bill which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says will NOT be deficit neutral. As Reason.com reported on Nov. 20, CBO said that if you count both that bill and a separate provision to fix Medicare reimbursement rates the budget deficit would rise by $89 billion between 2010 and 2019.
“The agency estimates that the two bills together would increase the budget deficit in 2019 by $23 billion relative to current law, an increment that would grow in subsequent years,” Reason explained.
In some cases, network reporters uncritically repeated Obama’s claims about the impact of health care reform on the deficit like ABC’s Chris Cuomo did Dec. 7. Cuomo told “Good Morning America” viewers, “The President made a rare visit to Capitol Hill Sunday to rally senators, saying the health care reform bill would reduce the deficit more than anything Congress has done since the Clinton years.” Cuomo then went on to other news.
NBC’s David Gregory mentioned concerns about the health care reform package’s “impact” on the deficit during the “Today” show Dec. 6, but without mentioning any cost estimate whatsoever.
For much of the year the networks ignored the “exorbitant” cost of health care reform proposals – citing estimates of $1 trillion or more in only 9 percent of stories between Inauguration Day and Obama’s primetime town hall meeting on health care (June 24, 2009). Despite the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimate that one Senate proposal would cost $1.6 trillion.