October 9, 2009 6:12AM

The Baucus “Failsafe” Is a Failsure

To reassure us all that Baucus 2.0 would not increase the deficit, its author Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) included a “failsafe” provision: if the OMB director determines that the Baucus bill would increase the deficit in the following year, that determination would trigger automatic cuts in the bill’s health insurance subsidies.

Sooooo, would those automatic cuts operate more like the failed Gramm‐​Rudman‐​Hollings automatic cuts, or the failed sustainable‐​growth‐​rate automatic cuts? Automatic spending cuts never work because today’s Congress cannot bind future Congresses.

The CBO estimates that, if the failsafe were to work, it would require 15‐​percent cuts in the bill’s new health insurance subsidies from 2015 through 2018. But the agency essentially says the mechanism would be unworkable.

The failsafe is a failsure. Baucus 2.0 would increase the deficit.