The smoking gun was a manual put out by the CBO in May...It spelled out exactly how much regulation was “too much” regulation. It explained what was the magical threshold that would cause [CBO director] Doug Elmendorf to declare some private market part of the government budget. Now, I’m angry about this for different reasons than the Cato Institute. I think it is insane that there could be any level of regulation that would make the private market part of the federal budget. Either the money is going through the federal treasury or it is not. I don’t think the the CBO director should have the power to see gray areas on this issue...There is no real logic to it, he simply decided what he thought was enough regulation to make something part of the budget.
To be sure, Walker and I have different ideas when it comes to (1) health care reform. (Not that you asked, but here are my ideas.) We likewise disagree that (2) the CBO's May 27 paper was the smoking gun. That paper laid out the CBO's (vague) criteria for including "private" financial transactions in the federal budget (and I duly linked to it in my ‘smoking gun’ post). But the December 13 memo is the first documented instance of Democrats gaming those criteria. And I disagree that (3) this was all Elmendorf's decision, (4) the federal budget should reflect only money that passes through the Treasury (instead of all the money that the feds control), and (5) there's no logic behind the CBO's criteria.
All that said, there are a couple of areas where Walker and I agree. For one, he writes:
More importantly, I don’t think something as important as regulation should be written to trick the CBO. It should be written to produce the best heath care system possible, not the best looking CBO score possible.
Hear, hear. Yet congressional Democrats have been doing just that, gaming the CBO's rules to hide the implicit subsidies their legislation would provide to large private insurance companies.
For another, he and I both agree that that legislation is little more than a bailout of large private insurance companies and would be worse than doing nothing.
My question for Walker, and for Howard Dean, and for Markos Moulitsas is: will they join me in calling for the Senate to obtain a CBO cost estimate of the off-budget part of the insurance-industry bailout (i.e., the individual and employer mandates)? Do they think Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should at least be up front with his base about what he's asking them to swallow? Do they think that We, the People deserve to know the whole truth about this bill?