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Repeal of healthcare law would add to federal deficit, Congressional Budget Office warns

If congressional Republicans are successful in killing the healthcare reform law, the Congressional Budget Office says, the deficit will grow by $230 billion over the next decade and the number of uninsured Americans will increase. But GOP lawmaker says the legislation is a 'job killer,' as repeal hearing begins.

January 06, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — As Republicans began the process of trying to repeal the healthcare reform law, the Congressional Budget Office warned Thursday morning that doing so would add to the federal deficit and expand the ranks of uninsured Americans.

On the second day of the 112th Congress, Republicans moved to fulfill a campaign promise as the House Rules Committee, chaired by Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas), held a hearing on HR 2, the proposed "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act."

"This law is a job killer," said Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the first to testify at the hearing.

Democrats have charged that a repealing the law would force Republicans to violate another promise to reduce the deficit. A preliminary CBO analysis supported that claim, estimating that doing so would add $230 billion to the deficit over the next decade.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the ranking minority member of the Rules Committee, said during Thursday's hearing that Republicans were "jamming this down our throat." In an interview with NPR, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi charged that repeal would do away with "very popular" provisions of the law, like prohibiting insurance companies from dropping customers because of preexisting conditions.

Republicans nonetheless vowed to press ahead with a vote in the full House on repeal next week.

"We know that the Obamacare bill, it costs too much. It will provide the environment where people will lose the healthcare that they know. And that's not what Americans want," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday.

As the CBO warned of the budgetary impact of repealing the healthcare law, Republicans were set to adopt a number of budget cuts. First up is legislation to be considered Thursday that would trim the budgets of congressional offices.

Later this month, the House Budget Committee will pursue more aggressive cuts, though the new GOP majority may fall short of its goal of immediately cutting $100 billion of federal government spending. Leaders insist they will be fulfilling a promise to return federal spending to 2008 levels.

House Speaker John Boehner also said in a statement Thursday that any request by the Obama administration to raise the federal debt ceiling must be "accompanied by meaningful action by the President and Congress to cut spending and end the job-killing spending binge in Washington."

mmemoli@tribune.com

twitter.com/mikememoli

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