The "Democracy Dies in Darkness" folks at the Washington Post somehow feel they have an obligation to print lies from the White House on their opinion page. How else can one explain the decision to run a column from Marc Short and Brian Blase that calls the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) estimates of the impact of the Republican health care plans "fake news." (The authors are respectively, assistant to the president for White House legislative affairs and special assistant to the president for the National Economic Council.)

The column is chock full of lies. (Sorry, with this crew there is no point in trying to be polite. They are liars, let's not pretend anything else.) It starts by trying to generically discredit CBO's analysis of health care plans.

"When Obamacare passed in 2010, the CBO projected a healthy individual market with 23 million people enrolled in exchange plans by this year. The CBO predicted that by 2017, exchange plans would be profitable and annual premium increases low."

....

"But this never happened. Today, there are only 10 million people enrolled in exchange plans — about 60 percent fewer than expected. (Contrary to some claims, this is not because more people have maintained employer plans than the CBO expected; the reduction in employer coverage has been greater than the CBO projected, and overall about 9 million more people are uninsured now than projected.) Absent the projected bounty of young, healthy consumers, health insurers are abandoning the exchanges, leaving a third of American counties with only one insurer to choose from. As insurers continue to flee the exchanges, consumers will face even fewer options next year."

CBO was not overly optimistic about Obamacare, it was actually overly pessimistic. As I wrote a couple of months back:

"Actually, CBO was overly pessimistic about Obamacare. If we look to CBO's last report on the Affordable Care Act, before the exchanges began operation in 2014, it projected that there would be 29 million people uninsured as of 2017 (Table 3). In its most recent analysis, it puts the number of uninsured in 2017 at 26 million (Table 4). In other words, the number of people who are uninsured under the ACA is 3 million fewer than CBO had predicted back in 2012.

"In what world is overestimating the number of uninsured 'overly optimistic?' It is true that fewer people are in the exchanges than CBO expected. This is due to the fact that more people have qualified for Medicaid and also more people are receiving employer-provided insurance, as fewer companies than expected dropped coverage."

The premiums have risen more in the last few years than projected because they were originally lower than projected. Premiums for 2017 are pretty much right where CBO had projected. And in states run by Democratic governors who are trying to make the Affordable Care Act work, the exchanges are doing just fine.

In short CBO gets an A- for its record on forecasting Obamacare, the White House crew gets a big fat "L" for lying.


But it gets worse. The White House gang tells us:

"Second, the CBO estimates that the Obamacare exchanges will average 18 million enrollees next year assuming the law remains in place. Yet only about 10 million Americans had exchange plans in 2015, 2016 and 2017 — and the CBO ignores Obamacare’s collapse. Simply put, the CBO predicts coverage under Obamacare that will never materialize."

Nope, CBO does not project a big jump in coverage in 2018. The document cited does show a rise in the number of people enrolled in the exchanges in 2018, but it is mostly at the expense of the number of people getting insurance through their employer. It projects no change in the number of the uninsured in 2018 compared with 2017.

Clearly Short and Blase knew they were fundamentally misrepresenting CBO projections in this effort to discredit its projections on the Republican plan. The Washington Post is not obligated to print anything the White House gives them. This is a column, not a news story, but I have had columns fact-checked, sometimes in great detail, by opinion page editors.

There is no justification for printing a hack piece from White House staff that includes deliberate misrepresentations with the explicit purpose of discrediting CBO. This is some serious darkness here.