GOP Senator Touts Obamacare Budget Report — Then Trashes It

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February 5, 2014 6:00 a.m.

Never has the Republican Party’s love-hate relationship with the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office been on such stark display.

Congress’ official scorekeeper released a major report Tuesday that contained both convenient and inconvenient news for the GOP. On one hand, it gave them a weapon to attack Obamacare’s impact on the job market; on the other hand, it dealt a blow to their efforts to eliminate a stability mechanism in the law that they call a “bailout.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) touted CBO for the convenient finding, and then quickly dismissed and mocked CBO for the inconvenient finding.

“Today CBO delivered terrible news to the millions of Americans looking for work. Obamacare, the President’s signature domestic policy achievement, will lead to more than 2 million fewer jobs and hurt much-needed economic growth,” Hatch said in a statement, referring to the CBO statistic that upwards of 2 million Americans would leave the full-time labor force over 10 years as Obamacare makes health coverage more accessible to them without their employer.

Approached by TPM that afternoon in the Capitol, Hatch took it a step further.

“I think we’re going to be lucky if that’s all that’s lost,” he said. “It’s a real big problem for this country and [Democrats] continue to want to go down the same path they’re going down. I don’t understand that.”

Then, within seconds, Hatch turned around and attacked CBO when asked about another finding in the same report that Obamacare’s risk corridors — the provision Republicans bash as a “bailout” — would actually save the government money.

“First of all, I don’t believe that,” the senator said, with a laugh. “I mean, that may be something they can conjure up in mathematics but I don’t believe so. These are the guys who tried to use pension smoothing to pay for unemployment insurance for three months,” he said, referring to a near-term budget savings options that has been criticized as a gimmick.

“I mean, come on, give me a break,” Hatch said.

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