Editor's Note: This week, Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., is providing the question.
So, what do you think of Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf after his testimony last week that the health care reform bills emerging from Congress would raise the cost of health care even higher than it is likely to be already? In Washington jargon, he said these bills would bend the cost curves in the wrong direction.
Pick one or more:
Your answer depends on what you think the goal of health care reform is. If this is a weight-reduction contest like "America's Biggest Loser," then it is embarrassing that all the bills, so far, gain weight. So Elmendorf is a hero for speaking truth to power.
But if you think that the goal is to get re-elected without alienating too many of your health care providers back home, then spending more money than CBO likes is not a big deal. Under this view, Elmendorf is a party-pooper.
Unfortunately, Elmendorf's testimony is likely to be much less relevant than it should be, regardless of whether you think he was a hero or a spoiler. True, it excited editorial writers (the few who are left) and policy experts, but Elmendorf just confirmed their suspicions that these bills were budget-busters. Folks back home care less about what CBO thinks than whether they can afford to see the doctor when they need to. And they don't know how pending legislation will affect them, but they are worried.
-- Jim Cooper