Mickey's Assignment Desk : Senate Dems quietly move a bill to countermand a 21% cut in Medicare fees for doctors , which will add $247 billion to the deficit over ten years. Of course, the Baucus health care reform bill achieves its famed deficit neutrality through cuts in Medicare fees, mainly to non-physicians-- saving ( by my reading of the CBO analysis ) at least $184 billion from Medicare over the same period. Plus there is a special panel set up to recommend further cuts.
Jonathan Cohn and Ezra Klein might productively explain a) Why this isn't a shell game , with Dems granting Medicare increases in one bill and then taking ostentatious credit for partly-offsetting cuts in a separate bill; b) Why Congress' unwillingness to put up with the scheduled Medicare doctors' cuts this year doesn't indicate that it won't put up with scheduled cuts in future years--that, as Megan McArdle among others argues, the projected Medicare cuts in Baucus' bill simply won't happen . ...
P.S.: I'm still for health care reform, of course, even if the accounting that scores it as deficit-neutral proves to be a fantasy . We make the mess now. We make it work and pay for it later. Stuff the beast ! If it turns out that to get the reform passed Dems have to resort to a shell game--using phony peas--well, just keep it between us, OK?. ... 7:21 P.M.