Dems say new GOP plan to repeal healthcare would increase deficit

Democrats are pouncing on a Republican plan to repeal the healthcare reform law, accusing Republicans of breaking their campaign promise to reduce the deficit.

Under new budget rules released by Republicans, the House could repeal the healthcare reform law without offsetting the $143 billion that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates it will shave from the deficit over 10 years.

The new rules allow the Budget Committee to “make appropriate budget adjustments” to account for the repeal of the reform law before adopting a fiscal 2012 budget plan, House aides explained.

James Horney, director of federal fiscal policy for the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the GOP rules include “various things that would make it possible to repeal it without running into points of orders.”

Horney said Democrats have a potent argument against the Republican plan.

“It’d bad for the budget,” Horney said. “It would increase deficits, and Democrats should certainly make that case.”

Democrats criticized Republicans for pushing healthcare repeal plans that would increase the deficit after running successfully on a fiscally conservative platform in the midterm elections.

“Republicans win the award for fastest flip-flop ever,” a House Democratic aide said. “They haven’t been sworn in yet, and they’re already proposing to increase the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.”

A House Democratic leadership aide said the effort "shows the hypocrisy" of Republicans "who are now finally admitting the healthcare reform law would actually cut the deficit.”

Sources told The Hill last week that Republicans are exploring the possibility of holding a repeal vote early next year that would bypass committee review and House rules requiring legislation to be paid for.

A spokeswoman for incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) declined to elaborate on the specifics of the party’s repeal strategy.

“The new Republican majority in the House will hold a straight up-or-down vote on the full repeal of the entire healthcare law,” spokeswoman Megan Whittemore said.

The new Republican rules skirting “pay-go” requirements have the support of an influential Tea Party group, which suggested the strategy in a memo to Republican leaders earlier this month. In the memo, FreedomWorks said the deficit reduction provided by the reform law is “a small amount” and that the savings would “vanish” in the next CBO estimate.

FreedomWorks, led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), urged Republicans to keep the pay-for vote separate from a vote on full repeal of the reform law.

“Even if there is some residual ‘cost’ to full repeal under existing budget rules, you can (and we argue, you should) waive the relevant points order … on the ground that no one should have to pay to repeal an unconstitutional bill, especially one whose tax hikes and spending streams haven’t begun yet,” the group said.

House Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) praised the new rules in a statement last Thursday.

“The rules package we have offered represents a first step towards delivering on the pledge Republicans made to address Americans’ top priorities: cutting spending, creating jobs and reforming the way Washington works,” he said.