No Matter How You Slice It, Obamacare Reduces the Federal Deficit

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We now live in the blessed era of dynamic scoring, something that Republicans have lusted over for decades. When the Congressional Budget Office makes economic projections, it can no longer just look at spending and taxes and subtract one from the other to get deficits. No siree. First they have to pay homage to the Laffer Curve and acknowledge that lower taxes will supercharge the economy and higher taxes will tank the economy. Then they recompute how much tax revenue they’re really going to get.

Anyway, CBO is now required to do this, so here’s their projection about how Obamacare will affect the federal deficit. Under the old-fashioned method, it will lower the deficit by $118 billion in 2025. But using the sleek new dynamic scoring system insisted on by Republicans, the truth becomes evident and Democratic evasions are exposed for all the world to see. Obamacare will, um, still reduce the deficit. But only by $98 billion.

In truth, this stuff is so open to interpretation and assumptions (and future congressional action) that neither number means much. Still, if you want to know if Obamacare pays for itself using our best estimates, it does. Even using dynamic scoring, it pays for itself. That’s more than Republicans ever do with their programs.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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