It’s been a week since the Congressional Budget Office dropped its score of Trumpcare, which means it’s been a week since it became abundantly clear, not for the first time, that the GOP’s attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare would cost millions of people their health insurance, cause premiums and deductibles to skyrocket, and disproportionately hurt the poor and the sick—all in order to give rich people a massive tax cut.
Republicans knew this was coming, but their response has been weak. They’ve done little to counter the actual claims in the CBO report. Instead, they’ve shrugged their shoulders, looked at the ground, and mumbled, “The CBO gets things wrong, y’know.” Which is exactly what they did when the CBO scored the first version of Trumpcare.
But on Wednesday, Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, took things a step further, arguing that there were Hillary moles inside the nonpartisan CBO. “At some point, you’ve got to ask yourself, has the day of the CBO come and gone?” Mulvaney told The Washington Examiner. “How much power do we give to the CBO under the 1974 Budget Act? We’re hearing now that the person in charge of the Affordable Health Care Act methodology is an alum of the Hillarycare program in the 1990s who was brought in by Democrats to score the ACA.”
Even for the Trump administration this is astonishingly brazen, cynical, and stupid. Mulvaney is trying to cast suspicion on Heather Harvey, who had worked in the Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration and currently heads the CBO’s health analysis division. That is quite a stretch, especially when you consider that the current head of the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, handpicked the CBO’s current director Keith Hall. It all gets more absurd when you remember that Donald Trump repeatedly cited CBO reports when criticizing the Obama administration. And it gets even more absurd when you remember that Mulvaney made a $2 trillion accounting error in his own budget.
This might be a new level of cynicism for the Trump administration, which has repeatedly trashed nonpartisan agencies. But really, it is the only card Mulvaney and Trump have to play.