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(Updated & Bumped) CBO Makes $600 Million Mistake

11:23 AM, Sep 25, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Senator Cornyn proposed an amendment this evening that would require any amendment voted on in the Senate Finance Committee to be scored first by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Tax Committee with the estimates made publicly available on the web 24 hours before the vote. The amendment was withdrawn and has little chance of passing when it is re-offered -- it is a transparent effort to delay the committee's work. And the committee needs to be delayed. Cornyn was prompted to offer the amendment after he learned that the CBO had made a $600 million mistake in scoring an amendment put forward by Senator Stabenow and passed by voice vote earlier today.

The Stabenow amendment had to do with foster kids, and she was quick to trot out that fact in the amendment's defense. But it doesn't really matter, the amendments are coming fast and furious, the bill is undergoing major changes, and no one has any idea what the thing is going to cost. The Democrats are pushing this thing through so quickly and for what? The bill won't go into effect until 2013.

The new New York Times/CBS poll leads with the fact that the public is unhappy with Obama's handling of the war and "confused and anxious about the proposed health care overhaul." The CBO is confused -- how could the public not be? The Democrats are right to worry that any serious scrutiny of the bill could scuttle the whole project. Every provision that has received real scrutiny -- the "end of life counseling," courtesy of Sarah Palin, and the loop holes for illegal immigrants, courtesy of Joe Wilson -- has been quickly dumped. The public option will probably be dumped tomorrow. Would co-ops survive a real public debate? Not likely.

Update: The amendment has been re-offered and is being debated now (11:20 am). It reads:

Description of Amendment: Requires that all amendments accepted or ruled out-of-order during the Finance Committee's consideration of the America's Healthy Future Act of 2009 be re-scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) for accuracy before the Committee can vote to report the bill. If an initial score is found to be inaccurate or an amendment is found to have been incorrectly ruled out-of-order, the Committee shall debate and reconsider the amendment.