Although the Baucus bill has garnered little praise, it has received favorable notice from one important source: the Congressional Budget Office, which pretty much torpedoed the first go-round of Obamacare. This time the CBO is predicting that the Baucus version  would cut the deficit by $16 billion in 2019. Sounds promising, no?

Before you take this to the bank, however, you should read Harvard economist Greg Mankiw’s analysis. It would work only if the plan were followed with absolute rigor. It won’t be, of course. Mankiw explains:


Let me try to put CBO’s point in a more familiar setting:

Your friend Joe, who says he want to lose weight, asks you for an extra slice of pie after dinner. Naturally, you are doubtful about the wisdom of the request.

“Ahem, Joe,” you whisper, “Aren’t there a lot of calories in that?”

“Yes,” he says, “but the pie is part of a larger plan. I am committed not only to eating that slice of pie but also to going to the gym every day for the next week and spending at least half a hour on the treadmill. The exercise will more than work off those extra calories.”

“But that’s what you said last week, when you asked for an extra piece of cake. And you never made it to the gym.”

“Yes, I know,” Joe replies ruefully, “but this time I really mean it….Can you please pass the pie?”


Finder’s Fee: Pundit and Pundette