The Obama administration's decision to scrap a new entitlement for the disabled that was part of President Obama's signature health care law has ignited a fresh debate over the entire law -- with Democrats calling it a minor snag and Republicans arguing the entire law is unraveling.Because the CBO only scored the bill based on 10 years, front loading the premiums while delaying services made the thing look like a bargain...at least made it look like it would cost less than $1 trillion over 10 years. It wasn't even close. When the benefits fully kick in there's not a chance this won't eventually bankrupt the economy.
The administration justified the elimination of the program, called CLASS for Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, by saying it would cost too much and wouldn't be sustainable. After pushback from the left, the White House clarified that it didn't fully kill the program, just decided not to go forward with it, at least for now.
The CLASS program "wasn't fiscally sustainable, and so I'm glad to see them do that," Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said. "I worry that there are other parts of the president's health care bill that would meet the same definition."
Republicans argue the program made the health care law looker cheaper than it really is by collecting premiums years before any benefits would be paid and counting the money as savings. Now that it is in limbo, some $70 billion, about half the theoretical savings over the first 10 years, have dissolved.
"A lot of the rest of the deficit reduction is smoke and mirrors, I believe, and I think it's pretty easy to show," Fox News contributor Bill Kristol said on "Fox News Sunday." "I think the Republicans now need to say this is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to repeal Obamacare.”
The administration had no choice but to drop CLASS because Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire inserted language in the health care bill requiring the program to be self-sustaining -- meaning it could not add to the deficit.
The question now is what's really going on here? Does anyone think Obama is just complying with the law by scrapping CLASS, or could he be laying the groundwork to help the Supreme Court justify stripping out the individual mandate without killing the whole program? Or could he be secretly hoping the Supremes kill the whole thing and take this albatross from around his neck as he heads into the election?
Anything is possible. And the legal authorization for CLASS is still there - it can be resurrected anytime.