The right-wing media remains desperate to obscure the fact that the Affordable Care Act lowers the deficit. In the latest iteration of the claim, Eric Bolling teamed up with Fox's "brain room" to inflate the cost of the health care reform law to a whopping $4 trillion.
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Affordable Care Act Lowers The Deficit
CBO: Health Care Reform Lowers The Deficit By More Than $100 Billion. In March 2011, the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation issued a joint report finding that "[o]n net, CBO and JCT's latest comprehensive estimate is that the effects of the two laws on direct spending and revenues related to health care will reduce federal deficits by $210 billion over the 2012-2021 period." The CBO subsequently determined that the Obama administration's decision to indefinitely suspend implementation of the portion of the Affordable Care Act that enacted the CLASS Act lowered the deficit savings of the Affordable Care Act by $83 billion. [Congressional Budget Office, 3/30/11, 10/31/11]
Nevertheless, Bolling Falsely Claims Affordable Care Act May Cost As Much As "$4 Trillion"
Bolling: Because The IRS Cannot Throw You In Jail For Refusing To Buy Insurance Or Pay The Penalty, The Affordable Care Act May Really Cost $3 Or $4 Trillion. From the March 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
BOLLING: I spent the better part of a full day looking through this, and I found something in the health care law, in the Obamacare law, dealing with -- specifically dealing with enforcement. Brian, if you don't pay your taxes, what happens? The IRS comes after you, right?
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Eventually.
BOLLING: They take you to court, eventually they take you to court, they can even garnish your wages, they can put a lien on your home, a tax lien on your property. Fast forward, the IRS will be the enforcement agent to Obamacare written in the bill. What happens if you don't buy health insurance either on the individual level or your company on a corporate level, you don't buy health insurance?
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): You pay the fine.
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): You pay the penalty.
BOLLING: Well, you get assessed a fine, tax, penalty, whatever it is. What if you say, Steve, go jump in the river, IRS. I'm not paying the penalty either?
KILMEADE: Same thing.
BOLLING: Wrong. Nothing. Specifically, if I may --
DOOCY: So this is a mandate with no teeth?
KILMEADE: You're not going to sing another song, are you?
BOLLING: No, I'm going to read this. Waiver of -- this is section 1501, subsection (g)(2)(a), waiver of criminal penalties in the case of any failure by taxpayer to timely pay the penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure and the secretary shall not file a notice of lien with respect to property and respect --
DOOCY: Well, politically though, they couldn't pass a bill where you go to prison.
BOLLING: Here's the -- well, they could give it -- they could give the IRS the same teeth to enforce tax law that they do Obamacare. Here's the point, though. Forget what this means. What it means to the taxpayer, it means, the CBO intially told us it was be $938 billion, the Obamacare. They recently upped it to $1.76 trillion. If this is true and if we're reading it right and I spent a lot of time with lawyers, with the brain room, with the accountants --
CARLSON: How dare you read the bill?
BOLLING: Listen to me. This could be double. This could be a $3 trillion bill, a $4 trillion bill. Because people will specifically say, if I don't have to pay and I'm not -- the extent of the enforcement's harassing phone calls. If that's all I have to deal with, there's going to be a section of population that doesn't pay, and people who do pay are going to pick up the tab for people who don't. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/29/12, emphasis added]
Bolling's Argument Relies On Three Clear Falsehoods
Bolling's Falsehood: "Nothing" Happens To You If You Don't Buy Health Insurance And Then Don't Pay The Penalty. When asked what would happen if you didn't buy insurance and then didn't pay the penalty assessed to people who don't buy insurance, Bolling answered: "Nothing." In fact, the penalty will be assessed against any refund or tax credit that a taxpayer would otherwise receive. From the Joint Committee on Taxation:
Specifically, the filing of notices of liens and levies otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty. In addition, the statute waives criminal penalties for non-compliance with the requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage. However, the authority to offset refunds or credits is not limited by this provision. [Joint Committee on Taxation, 3/21/10]
Bolling's Falsehood: CBO Has Not Taken Into Account The Effect Of The Enforcement Mechanism For The Individual Mandate. Bolling claimed that, after having "spent a lot of time with lawyers, with the [Fox] brain room, with the accountants," if the effect of people saying "I don't have to pay" were truly taken into account, the CBO estimate of the cost of the bill "could be double. This could be a $3 trillion bill, a $4 trillion bill." Actually, the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation have already taken this into account and have estimated that "collections from those penalties will be about $4 billion per year." From an April 2010 CBO report:
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have estimated that about 21 million nonelderly residents will be uninsured in 2016, but the majority of them will not be subject to the penalty. Unauthorized immigrants, for example, are exempted from the mandate to obtain health insurance. Others will be subject to the mandate but exempted from the penalty -- for example, because they will have income low enough that they are not required to file an income tax return, because they are members of Indian tribes, or because the premium they would have to pay would exceed a specified share of their income (initially 8 percent in 2014 and indexed over time). CBO and JCT estimate that between 13 million and 14 million of the uninsured in 2016 will qualify for one or more of those exemptions.
Of the remaining 7 million to 8 million uninsured, some individuals will be granted exemptions from the penalty because of hardship, and others will be exempted from the mandate on the basis of their religious beliefs. Among the uninsured who do not obtain an exemption, many will voluntarily report on their tax returns that they are uninsured and pay the amount owed. However, other individuals will try to avoid making payments. Therefore, the estimates presented here account for likely compliance rates, as well as the ability of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to administer and collect the penalty. After accounting for all of those factors, CBO and JCT estimate that about 4 million people will pay a penalty because they will be uninsured in 2016 (a figure that includes uninsured dependents who have the penalty paid on their behalf).
CBO and JCT estimate that total collections from those penalties will be about $4 billion per year over the 2017-2019 period. [CBO, 4/30/10]
Bolling's Falsehood: The CBO Has Already Increased The Estimate For The Affordable Care Act To $1.7 Trillion. Bolling claimed that "CBO intially told us it was be $938 billion, Obamacare. They recently upped it to $1.76 trillion." In fact, Bolling was referring to just the gross cost of the insurance coverage provision, not the entire bill. In addition, in the report to which Bolling is referring, the CBO estimated that the insurance coverage provisions will cost "just under $1.1 trillion," less than previously estimated. [Media Matters, 3/16/12]
- Even The Conservative National Review Online Acknowledges That The Talking Point That The Affordable Care Act's Cost Has Doubled Is Nonsense. From a post by National Review Online's Patrick Brennan:
The House Republican Policy Committee, for instance, put out a statement claiming that "the new CBO projection estimates that the law will cost $1.76 trillion over 10 years -- well above the $940 billion Democrats originally claimed."
This claim, that the CBO's 2012 estimate suggests Obamacare will cost twice as much as originally projected when the bill was passed in 2010, has been widely trumpeted, by some rather doggedly, as another Obamacare failure, but unfortunately, it's entirely dishonest accounting, as a range of liberal bloggers have pointed out. [National Review Online, 3/20/12]
Right-Wing Media Pretend All The Time That The Affordable Care Act Is A Budget Buster
For Years, Right-Wing Media Outlets Have Pushed The Falsehood That The Affordable Care Act Will Cost The Government A Fortune. Examples of conservative media making false claims about the costs of the Affordable Care Act include:
- Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim Cost Of Health Care Law Has Doubled. [Media Matters, 3/16/12]
- Wash. Times' Wolf "Lie[s]" To Accuse Obama Of Lying On Health Care. [Media Matters, 7/20/11]
- Doocy Echoes Bachmann's New, False Claim That $105 Billion Was "Hidden" In Health Care Law. [Media Matters, 3/9/11]
- Carlson Allows Former GOP Aide To Falsely Claim HC Reform Does Not Reduce Deficit. [Media Matters, 1/24/11]
- Rove Still Pushing Health Care Deficit Reduction Misinformation. [Media Matters, 1/20/11]
- Red State Advances Bogus Claim That Repeal Of Health Care Reform Will Not Increase Deficit. [Media Matters, 1/6/11]
- Ingraham Accuses CBO Of "Spinning" On Health Care Reform. [Media Matters, 1/6/11]
- WSJ Revives Tired Claim To Suggest Health Reform Increases Deficit. [Media Matters, 1/4/11]
- Fox Promotes Boehner's Falsehood That Health Care Law Will "Bankrupt" The Country. [Media Matters, 9/9/10]
- Fox Falsely Claims CBO Estimated Health Care Reform Would Add To Deficit. [Media Matters, 7/7/10]
- Varney Still Pushing Tired Claim That Health Care Reform Bill "Will Not Lower The Deficit." [Media Matters, 6/30/10]
- Rove Continues To Mislead On CBO's Health Care Estimate. [Media Matters, 6/4/10]
- Goldberg Falsely Suggests Health Care Reform Isn't Paid For. [Media Matters, 4/4/10]
- Kilmeade: "How The Heck" Can Health Care Reform Reduce The Deficit While Also Spending $940B? [Media Matters, 3/26/10]
- Kristol Says GOP "Can Make A Compelling Case" That Health Care Reform "Will Bankrupt The Government." [Media Matters, 3/22/10]
- Cavuto Falsely Claims That Health Care Reform Is "Most Costly" Bill "In A Generation." [Media Matters, 3/20/10]
- Fox Responds To CBO Score Of Health Care Bill By Portraying CBO As Untrustworthy. [Media Matters, 3/19/10]
- Attention Fox News: The CBO Has Not Undermined Its Deficit Reduction Estimate. [Media Matters, 12/23/09]