Fox & Friends repeatedly falsely suggested that the public option will not "save us a lot of money." In fact, according to a July 22 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the "public plan" would "reduce the federal budget deficit by about $15 billion" in 2020 and would save "about $68 billion" through 2020.
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Fox responds with disbelief to "Democrats ... saying" public option will save money
Doocy and Kilmeade falsely suggest public option will not "save us a lot of money." On the July 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade both falsely suggested that the public option would not save the country money:
DOOCY: Meanwhile, remember the public option? Gone, right? Nope, it's baaaaaack! Democrats pushing it again, saying it's going to save us a lot of money.
Later in the show, Kilmeade said:
KILMEADE: If you don't succeed, try, try again. Democrats bringing the public option back from the dead. Only this time they claim it's going to save money.
In fact, CBO projects that the public option would save "about $68 billion" through 2020. In a July 22 letter to Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), chairman of the House Ways and Means health subcommittee, CBO released its analysis of the budgetary impact of adding the "public plan" option to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
This letter responds to your request for an analysis of a specific proposal to add a "public plan" to the options available through the health insurance exchanges that will be established in 2014 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA.
CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that the proposal would reduce federal budget deficits through 2019 by about $53 billion. That estimate includes a $37 billion reduction in exchange subsidies and a $27 billion increase in tax revenues that would result from changes in employment-based coverage, partly offset by an $11 billion increase in costs for providing tax credits to small employers. (The proposal would have minimal effects on other outlays and revenues related to the insurance coverage provisions of PPACA.) The bulk of those effects would occur in the second half of the decade; the savings estimated for 2019 are about $14 billion. Although CBO and JCT have not yet extended to 2020 the models they use to estimate insurance coverage, the proposal would probably reduce the federal budget deficit by about $15 billion in that year, bringing the total budgetary savings through 2020 to about $68 billion.
Fox previously advanced false claims that the public option would increase the deficit. During the debate over health care reform legislation, Fox advanced false claims that a public option would increase the deficit. For instance, on the November 9, 2009, Fox & Friends, Fox News correspondent Mike Emanuel repeatedly advanced Sen. Joe Lieberman's false claim that a "public option plan" would lead to "debt [that] can break America and send us into a recession that's worse than the one we are fighting our way out of today." Emanuel called Lieberman's comments "interesting." However, CBO had shown in several estimates that the public option proposals would either reduce or have no impact on the deficit.
Fox's Johnson absurdly rejects CBO score
Johnson: CBO report is "a phony analysis." Later on the July 23 Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. said the CBO report stating that the public option will save money through 2020 is "a phony analysis." From Fox & Friends:
JOHNSON: What they've done in a five-page letter -- and we should really, you know, look at that. The CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, is saying -- in just a five-page letter -- we're going to save $68 billion off the deficit.
DOOCY: Well that sounds pretty good, if that's true.
JOHNSON: Sure. They're challenging the Republicans. They're saying, hey, Republicans, you want to walk the walk, you know, on the deficit? We have a plan here. We're going to reduce the deficit in America. But you know, part of that projection, Steve Doocy, is they said, well, the way we're going to reduce the deficit is insurance costs will be lower and, therefore, people will have higher income and, therefore, they will pay higher taxes to the federal government. And that's how we're going to reduce the deficit. I mean, it's a phony analysis.
Fox has a history of rejecting CBO reports with which it disagrees
Beck mocks CBO score of health care reform: "Well, that's a party in my pants." On the March 18 edition of his Fox News program, Glenn Beck asked: "How would the CBO numbers even make any difference? You know, 'Only 900 and' -- what is it -- '$954 billion.' Ooh. Well, that's a party in my pants. Thank you for sending that one by. How does that make a difference?"
Doocy: "[C]an you really rely on the numbers that the Congressional Budget Office comes out with?" On the March 19 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy claimed, "Democrats say it will reduce the deficit by more than $100 billion over the first decade." After guest host Dana Perino responded by saying, "Well, but there are other members who say that it actually will cost $2.4 trillion over the 10 years once you add it all up," Doocy asked, "Because, can you really rely on the numbers that the Congressional Budget Office comes out with?"
Perino: "[C]an we trust these numbers?" Introducing an interview with Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) on the same edition of Fox & Friends, Perino said: "Nine-hundred and forty billion dollars over the next decade. That's the preliminary price tag for the Democrats' health care bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It also says the plan will cut the federal deficit by $130 billion in that time, but can we trust these numbers?" Weiner said the score "came out really better than we thought it would. It was a great savings number, and so the deficit hawks now have things that they can point at and say, 'You know what? This really does save money.' " Perino then asked him, "But do you think ... that those numbers can be trusted later on?"
Johnson: "I don't expect or anticipate that their numbers are real." On the same edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade said that the "average person" would say, "[I]f a plan costs $940 billion, tell me how I'm saving 130 billion. So it doesn't make any sense." Johnson then noted that Perino had asked, "Do we really trust these numbers?" and claimed that "if you read carefully the latest CBO things, they say, 'Well, we don't usually project out another 10 years.' And there's so many variables and so many wiggle words that I don't expect or anticipate that their numbers are real." He later said, "I think we're being spun."
Hannity calls CBO score "budgetary gimmicks and tricks." On the March 18 edition of his Fox News program, Sean Hannity stated that the CBO score of the health care bill reflected "budgetary gimmicks and tricks" and said it is "[f]lat-out dishonest" that the score didn't contain separate legislation that cancels scheduled cuts in Medicare payments to doctors. After guest Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) claimed that "the only way that [Democrats] pay for those additions is to reduce seniors' health care benefits on their Medicaid or raise taxes," Hannity responded, "[W]hy would the CBO not highlight this to give a truly educational, informational, you know, scoring of this to the American people?"
Hemmer asks Juan Williams: "[D]o you believe" the CBO long-range forecast? On the March 18 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox News contributor Juan Williams called the CBO score a "deal-maker" because it will "reassure those independents and, by extension, those Democrats that have been on the fence because they are deficit hawks" because of the deficit reduction. Co-host Bill Hemmer then said to Williams: "That's 20 years out. You've lived in Washington a long time. Do you believe that?"
Fox Nation headline: "CBO Score Called a 'Lie.' " On March 18, Fox Nation posted a National Review Online article under the headline, "CBO Score Called a 'Lie.' " From Fox Nation:
By contrast, Fox News touted "favorable" CBO score of the GOP health care bill
Fox's Shively touted "favorable" CBO report on GOP health care bill and advanced false GOP claim that GOP plan would lower premiums more than Democrats' plan. On the November 5, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends, contributor Caroline Shively adopted the GOP spin by reporting: "Now, on the other side of the aisle, Republicans have gotten favorable reports from the Congressional Budget Office on the cost of their health care bill. GOP lawmakers say that means premiums for millions of families will be almost $5,000 lower under their plan, compared to the cheapest plan in the Democrats' exchange." In fact, the $5,000 difference Shively cited ignored premium caps in the House Democrats' plan. As Media Matters has noted, because the Democrats' health care bill provides premium caps on a sliding scale based on income, the lowest amount that a family would have to pay in premiums is significantly less than the GOP alternative. Shively's Fox & Friends report ignored that the GOP plan would not cover most uninsured Americans. Shively also did not report that the CBO estimates indicate that House Democrats' bill lowers the deficit more than the GOP's proposal.
America's Newsroom attributes Republican talking point to CBO. On the November 5, 2009, edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Martha McCallum claimed: "The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is saying that the Republican bill ... will carry lower costs for Americans. The CBO estimates that health insurance premiums would be nearly $5,000 cheaper under the Republican reforms than the Democratic ones." In fact, CBO never made that claim. The comparison was based on calculations done by Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee. From America's Newsroom: