A few days ago Newt Gingrich wrote a jeremiad against the Congressional Budget Office, which acts as the official scorekeeper for the effect of proposed legislation. The CBO, he said, was obsolete, corrupt, left-wing, etc. etc. and simply didn't know how to account for a dynamic, entrepreneurial, red-tape-cutter like Donald Trump.
Gingrich's real problem, of course, is that the CBO is required to stick close to reality, which means that it often produces projections and estimates that are inconvenient for Republicans. Take today, for example. Senate Democrats asked for an estimate of what would happen if Obamacare were repealed. Here's the CBO's answer:
- 18 million people would lose insurance. By 2026, that would increase to 32 million.
- Premiums in the individual market would skyrocket, increasing 20-25 percent in the first year and about 50 percent by 2026.
- Insurers would exit the individual market en masse. About half the nation's population would live in areas with no individual insurers at all, rising to three-quarters by 2026.
That is inconvenient, isn't it? This is what happens if you eliminate Obamacare but keep in place the ban on pre-existing conditions—which Republicans all say they support and which they can't repeal anyway. Premiums would skyrocket, 32 million people would lose coverage, and insurers would abandon about three-quarters of the country.
This is what Republicans need to address with their "replace" plan. But they can't do it and they know it.