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CBO Estimate Complicates Republican Plans for Reconciliation

By Paul M. Krawzak, CQ Roll Call

June 19, 2015 -- The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) finding that repealing the 2010 health care law would add more than $100 billion to the deficit even when dynamic scoring is used shows the challenge that Republicans face in moving a repeal through reconciliation.

Reconciliation would allow a repeal of the Affordable Care Act to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes, negating the need for Democratic support. But the Republican written reconciliation instructions require any measure that is moved through the expedited procedure to reduce the deficit. 

The CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation said in their analysis that even when including the economy-expanding effects of a repeal as measured through dynamic scoring, a full repeal of the law would add $137 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years. That means Republicans would have to write repeal legislation which, unlike the generic repeal bill assumed by the CBO, would reduce the deficit between 2016 and 2025. 

But the task is even more complicated than that. The report said that in the decade after 2025, repeal would result in an increase in the deficit of about 1 percent of GDP. That, too, poses a challenge to reconciliation, since the Byrd Rule in the Senate provides for a point of order against any reconciliation bill that would increase the deficit in future years following the 10-year budget window. 

That means Republicans have to come up with a repeal bill that not only reduces rather than increases the deficit over the next 10 years, but one that does not produce additional red ink in subsequent years.

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