THEY JUST CAN’T HELP THEMSELVES…. The gap between congressional Republicans’ rhetoric on health care and reality continues to grow. Yes, that’s apparently still possible.

This week, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, claiming to rely on a report from the Congressional Budget Office (which the GOP allegedly no longer trusts), insisted that the price tag for the Affordable Care Act just got much bigger. How much bigger? The committee Republicans issued a press release that read, “Obamacare Price Tag Spikes by 54%”

Well, that would be quite a significant jump, wouldn’t it? If Republicans were telling the truth, this would be quite a development.

Except, as Glenn Kessler explained, there’s nothing honest about the GOP’s assessment.

The Energy and Commerce Committee came up with its increase by mixing apples and oranges. It compared the gross cost of insurance coverage provisions calculated for 2010-2019 (that’s the $938 billion number) with new figures for a different budget window, 2012-2021 (that’s the $1.445 trillion figure.) That’s kind of like saying the cost of pizza went up by comparing last year’s price for a 12-inch pie with this year’s price for a 16-inch pie. […]

The CBO generally remains aloof from the political back-and-forth over its numbers. But late Wednesday, the CBO addressed this question in its Director’s Blog. It lined up the numbers for all three of its estimates and then made the following point, underlying it for emphasis:

Over the eight-year period that is common to all three analyses (2012 through 2019), the latest estimate of the net cost of the coverage provisions ($794 billion) differs by only about 2 percent from the original estimate ($778 billion) ; the projected gross costs … differ by only about 4 percent over that period.”

In budget terms over such a long period of time, these differences amount to rounding errors.

As the CBO put it, again underlining its point: “The evolution of the estimates does not reflect any substantial change in the estimation of the overall effects of [the health care law] from what was projected in March 2010.”

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee presumably know all of this, but don’t care. The goal is to try to pull off a clumsy con, hoping reporters and the public just won’t know the difference.

The point is to deceive, not inform.

We’re pretty much at the point in this debate at which every claim the GOP makes about the Affordable Care Act is deliberately untrue.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.