Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called for the Congressional Budget Office to be abolished in the aftermath of a negative report about the proposed American Health Care Act legislation, the Republican plan to replace Obamacare.
“They should abolish the Congressional Budget Office,” said Gingrich in a Fox News interview Monday night. “It is corrupt, it is dishonest, it was totally wrong on Obamacare by huge, huge margins. I don’t trust a single word of what they’ve published, and I don’t believe them.”
The CBO report estimated that if Obamacare were to be replaced by the AHCA, 14 million Americans would lose their health care in 2018. The report also projected that by 2026, 52 million Americans would be without health insurance compared with 28 million under the current law. According to the CBO estimate, premiums for younger people would drop dramatically while premiums for older Americans would substantially rise.
The CBO report on Obamacare that Gingrich cited did have some errors, but the biggest ones were attributable to fewer employers dropping employee health care than anticipated and to a Supreme Court ruling allowing states to opt out of expanding Medicaid. Nineteen states declined to participate.
Gingrich called the CBO “disgusting” and said he was disappointed that Republicans hadn’t abolished it. He also offered an alternative to the current scoring system: “They should replace it by putting out to bid and having three to five professional firms score these things.”
The CBO was created in 1974 to be a nonpartisan analyst of proposed legislation, providing independent reports on the potential economic impact of new bills. The current CBO director is Keith Hall, who was appointed in 2015. Hall served on President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. His selection rankled some Democrats who cited his criticisms of Obamacare and an increased minimum wage in a 2013 op-ed. The CBO has strict rules to limit financial conflicts of interest and political activities by its employees.
Current Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was chair of the House Budget Committee when Hall was appointed and praised the pick at the time.
“Keith Hall will bring an impressive level of economic expertise and experience to the Congressional Budget Office,” said Price. “His vast understanding of economic and labor market policy will be invaluable to the work of CBO.”
Price was less enthusiastic on Monday following the release of the AHCA report.
“We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out,” Price told reporters after leaving a Cabinet meeting with President Trump. “We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower cost and give them the choices that they want for the coverage that they want for themselves and for their families, not that the government forces them to buy.”
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