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Costs, Taxes In Health Bill Need Scrutiny

Crapo, colleagues call for formal review by tax and budget experts

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, continued his push for transparency and accessibility as the Committee moves toward a final vote on health care reform legislation. Crapo, who has long held that the present draft legislation is too expensive, raises taxes on middle and lower-income families and fails to cut health costs, joined with nine of his Republican colleagues in sending a letter to Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana), urging him to include the heads of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) before the Committee prior to any final vote on the legislation.  

The letter says, in part:

"Health care reform is a monumental task that will touch the life of every American. Before the Committee votes to report the legislation out of Committee, it is important that all Members have a thorough understanding of the cost of the legislation and how individuals, families and businesses will be affected. In keeping with the President's request that health care reform be revenue neutral over a ten-year period and reduce the growth of health care spending over the long run, it is important that Members have an opportunity to ask questions about the legislation's deficit impact within the ten-year budget window and beyond.

"The American public has understandably become cynical with regards to Congress passing thousand-page bills with price tags in the hundreds of billions of dollars prior to examining the legislative documents. Providing Members the opportunity to ask questions of Director Elmendorf and Mr. Barthold before the committee votes would be in keeping with the tradition of transparency in the Finance Committee. It is also in keeping with your commitment, which we appreciate, that in good faith there will be time to look at the score," and that we will have the opportunity as a committee to respond to issues raised by CBO and JCT before the vote. Moreover, it would send a signal to the American public that we take our duty seriously to understand how legislation will affect their lives prior to voting on reporting any legislation out of Committee."

The Finance Committee will hold a final vote on the bill pending the release of the latest CBO scoring estimate.