New “ObamaCare Study”–Agitprop A La Carte

You might have seen a headline in the Washington Post today, or a link to the Lori MontgomeryWaPo story at any number of conservative sites, touting a “new study” showing that ObamaCare would “add $340 billion to deficit.”

Jonathan Chait helpfully says pretty much everything that needs to be said to debunk the idea that this is anything particularly new or worth worrying about. I won’t quote the whole thing or go through his reasoning, but basically the “new study” is just another GOP effort (authored by Republican Medicare trustee Charles Blahous) uaimed at “proving” that ACA adds rather than detracts from the federal budget deficit, in this case by pretending much of its Medicare savings would have been achieved anyway, thus denying them a spot on the positive side of the ledger. Here’s Jon’s bottom line:

Blahous is the Republican trustee for Medicare, so that title offers the hook for a paper he writes that, by adopting some mighty odd hypothetical scenarios, says that Obamacare will boost the deficit. Blahous’s government position gives the claim enough juice that it can be pitched as a “study” by a government official, as opposed to just another Republican-authored polemic, which would never receive such prominent or relatively credulous coverage. The next step is for conservatives to adopt Blahous’s figure as the “true” figure — but of course never to apply his strange assumptions to the GOP budget or to any other proposal — and browbeat the media into citing that alongside the CBO figure, for “balance.”

Since GOPers have been making all sorts of wild claims about ObamaCare’s cost since well before it was ever enacted, the only thing newsworthy about this a la carte bit of agitprop is that the Washington Post reported it as credible. Thanks a lot, Lori.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.