Congressional staffers are buzzing about a terrifically insightful National Journal piece from a week ago that has still attracted too little mainstream notice, explaining how if any part of ObamaCare is thrown out by the Supreme Court, the budgetary “scoring” problems that would be caused (for the Congressional Budget Office) are so complicated that they could hamstring implementation of what’s left of the law — but also hamstring efforts to fix any holes caused by the law’s unraveling. Basically, CBO could be looking at a law whose budgetary effects are essentially “unestimatable.”
My sources say the administration’s own argument — that if the mandate is struck down, so should the rest of Title 1 of the Affordable Care Act, but none of the rest of it — could effectively put itself (the administration itself) into a box, paint it into a corner, or whatever other cliche you want to use. As Margot Sanger-Katz and Meghan McCarthy of National Journal reported:
Washington’s top health economists, including those at the Congressional Budget Office, say that position could lead to an even more complex breakdown of the law’s interlocking provisions than just losing the mandate. CBO declined to comment for this story, and the White House also declined to comment on whether it is worried about complications that might result from its position.
But several congressional staffers said that CBO has been asked to score the scenario, and the office demurred, saying it’s too difficult to game out the consequences. According to economists, the scenario is not just complicated, but also potentially expensive—and could lead the estimated $461 billion in insurance tax credits through 2021 to balloon.
This all gets very complicated, and it goes even beyond what National Journal so well described, but this bears serious watching. Stay tuned. The administration really could be in for “heap big trouble.”