Mitt Romney’s bogus attack on the Affordable Care Act

Here's what Mitt Romney said Thursday after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act:

Obamacare was bad policy yesterday. It's bad policy today. Obamacare was bad law yesterday. It’s bad law today. Let me tell you why I say that. Obamacare raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion. Obamacare cuts Medicare, cuts Medicare, by approximately $500 billion. And even with those cuts, and tax increases, Obamacare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt.

See what he did there? There are two ways you can go at the Affordable Care Act. One is to say that the legislation includes all these awful Medicare cuts and tax increases and that's why it's bad. The other is to say that the legislation doesn't actually pay for itself and that's why it's bad. The problem is that these two attacks contradict each other.

If you believe the awful Medicare cuts and tax increases are real, then the legislation more than pays for itself. That's why the Congressional Budget Office scores it as deficit-reducing. If you believe the cuts and taxes are fake -- perhaps because Congress will act to prevent them from happening -- then the legislation doesn't pay for itself, but then you can't attack those Medicare cuts and tax increases, because you don't believe they actually exist. So you have to pick one.

The ACA's taxes and spending cuts are slightly larger than its spending. If you believe in those taxes and spending cuts, as Romney clearly does, then you believe the law reduces the deficit. (CBO)

But Romney isn't picking one. Worse than that, he knows he's not picking one. He's been criticized for this kind of thing before. So rather than retiring the line, he has added a new, and completely untrue, bit of connective tissue: "even with those cuts, and tax increases, Obamacare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt."

Politifact "asked the Romney campaign for their evidence for this statement, but we didn’t hear back." They rated the overall claim as "false."

Last year, the Congressional Budget Office released a cost estimate for H.R. 2: The Repealing the Job-Killing Health-Care Act. Yes, that's really its name. CBO found that "on balance, the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting H.R. 2 would cause a net increase in federal budget deficits of $210 billion over the 2012-2021 period." For technical reasons related to both the growth of the economy and the growth of the spending cuts and tax increases in the bill, it would be nearer to $300 billion if you repealed it in 2013, as Romney is proposing to do.

So when Mitt Romney gives you his literal reason that the Affordable Care Act is "bad policy" and a "bad law," the reason he's giving is not true. I guess we can expect that when he finds that out, he'll change his position on the law, right?

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