For the first time last night President Obama expressed frustration at the way Congressional Budget Office makes its analyses, leading some to question whether the president is preparing to dismiss whatever price tag the CBO places on the final draft of the congressional Democrats' health care reform proposal.
In recent weeks as the CBO -- long regarded as a fair and non-partisan arbiter -- has provided estimates of $1 trillion to $1.6 trillion for two drafts of health care reform bills, and some Democrats have claimed the CBO analyses aren't fair.
On Wednesday night Obama added his voice to the chorus of frustrated Congressional Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The president yesterday added his voice to the chorus of frustrated Congressional Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Responding to a question of: "how and who will pay for the national health care system," the president said, "What my administration has said, what I've said, is that whatever it is that we do, we pay for. So it doesn't add to our deficit."
"We will have some up-front costs," he acknowledged. "And the estimates ... have been anywhere from a trillion to $2 trillion. But what I have said is whatever it is we do, we pay for."
The president said the CBO "doesn't count all of the savings that may come from prevention, may come from eliminating all of the paperwork and bureaucracy because we have put forward health IT. It doesn't come from the evidence-based care and changes in reimbursement ... they're not willing to credit us with those savings. They say, 'That may be nice, that may save a lot of money, but we can't be certain.'"
"We spend $177 billion over 10 years in providing subsidies for insurers," the president said.
Obama made a push Wednesday for evidence-based medicine and a reduction in health care costs in the United States, but skeptics and many Republicans remain unconvinced his plans will work.
The president faced questions about the rising cost of health care, his proposed "public option" plan and taxing benefits during an ABC News' special on health care reform, "Questions for the President: Prescription for America," anchored from the White House by Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson.
Republicans do not believe the president made his case.
"We believe we should fix our problem in the health care system," Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said on "Good Morning America" today. Ryan said he believes Congress will meet the president's deadline of achieving reform by the end of the year, but added that the reform could move forward without Republican support.
"Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it will be bipartisan health care reform," he said. "Democrats have the votes, and they've told us they're not interested in sincere bipartisanship."
Obama struggled Wednesday to explain whether his health care reform proposals would force normal Americans to make sacrifices that wealthier, more powerful people -- like the president himself -- wouldn't face.
The probing questions came from two skeptical neurologists.
Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said that elites often propose health care solutions that limit options for the general public, secure in the knowledge that if they or their loves ones get sick, they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it's not provided by insurance.