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Michael Steele Says CBO Lied After Citing It Favorably 8 Times In One Speech

First Posted: 05/18/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 04:55 PM ET

Michael Steele

Politicians are notably fair-weathered when it comes to touting reports issued by the Congressional Budget Office. When the data fall in your favor, it's considered gospel. When the number crunchers aren't so kind, it's deemed fantasy.

But on Thursday Republican national Chairman Michael Steele took the routine to a new extreme, going so far as to dismiss the CBO's analysis of the deficit reducing impact of the health care bill a "lie."

Asked to respond to calculations that the bill would save $1.2 trillion in the out-years following the first decade after implementation, Steele replied told CNN's Rick Sanchez: "I got two words for you -- or three words. Three words... That's a lie."

It's not, of course. It is an estimate based on a formula and data. And while it surely won't be dead-on-accurate, it's a well-respected basis for considering legislation. Steele, at the very least, should know this. Back when he was delivering a tour-de-force takedown of the health care bill in late July, the RNC chair cited CBO data eight times in an effort to claim it was a deficit killer.

Here are a few relevant snippets from Steele's speech that day at the National Press Club:

* According to CBO's best guess, once the plan is fully implemented, it will cost hundreds of billions each year -- in the case of the House bill, $202 billion in 2019 alone. And note that I said "best guess." The thousand-plus page House bill was not released until less than 48 hours before markup, and CBO said that it still had not completed its revenue analysis.
* For example, CBO stated, quote: "We have not yet estimated the administrative costs to the federal government of implementing the specified policies." In other words, the staggering cost estimated by CBO does not even include one of the biggest expenses in the bill.
* According to the latest CBO estimates, under the house Democrat version of the health plan, after it is implemented, the cost of insuring each additional individual would be nearly $30,000, an amount far greater than the average annual cost of insuring an entire family today. (According to the Henry J. Kaiser foundation, the average cost of an employer health plan for a family of four is about $12,800.)
* What's more, to add insult to injury, CBO tells us that every version of the Democrat health plan, even after spending trillions of dollars, would leave millions still uninsured.
* The president has insisted at every step of the way that his health plan will not add to the deficit. But just last Friday, CBO concluded that the Obama-Pelosi plan will add $239 billion to the deficit by 2019, and hundreds of billions thereafter. That means -- according to CBO, not Michael Steele -- the Obama-Pelosi plan does not do either of the two things the president swore that they would do: contain costs and not add to the deficit.

WATCH: Steele repeats his claims on CNN

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