Playing With Numbers Congressional Style

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Today’s lesson on how Congress goes about the nation’s business comes from Keith Hennessey:

House Democrats have modified their “extenders” bill and appear to be bringing it to the floor for a vote today.  Monday’s version would have increased the deficit by $134 B over the next decade.  Today’s version would increase the deficit by $84 B over that same timeframe.  What hard choices did the Leaders make to cut the net deficit impact by $50 B?

None.

They simply extended the most expensive provisions for a shorter period of time:

  • The new bill extends the unemployment insurance and COBRA health insurance benefits through November 2010 rather than through December 2010 in Monday’s version.
  • The Medicare “doctors’ fix” would extend through 2011, rather than through 2013 in Tuesday’s version.  (Note:  In Monday’s post I mistakenly wrote that the bill contained an 18-month doctors’ fix.)

Just push the total cost out a bit, secure in the knowledge that the next Congress pick up the ball and run with it. Hell of a way to run a country, isn’t it.


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