The Congressional Budget Office is tasked with "scoring" pending legislation based on the (sometimes cherry-picked) data they're provided. I understand that. Nevertheless, producing an analysis of what amounts to an anti-infanticide bill based on the icy calculation of how much infanticide "saves" taxpayers is downright ghoulish. The objective of the law is to end a form of inhumane killing, not to clean up our balance sheets. And yet:
The CBO has also concluded that aborting babies at 20 weeks or later in pregnancy saves money for the government-run federal-state Medicaid system. The CBO made these determinations when doing its official “Cost Estimate” of a federal bill that would prohibit abortions at 20 weeks or later into pregnancy (except in cases of reported rape, incest against a minor or to save the life of the mother). “Based on data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CBO estimates that, each year, about 11,000 abortions take place 20 weeks or more after fertilization,” said the CBO’s analysis of H.R. 1797, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act ... “For this estimate,” said CBO, “CBO assumes that around three-quarters of abortions that would occur 20 weeks or more after fertilization under current law would take place earlier, before the 20th week restriction is triggered, under the act.
As a result, we estimate that the increase in federal costs for Medicaid would total $225 million over the 2014-2023 period.” The CBO does not explain how it decided to assume that three quarters of women who otherwise would have aborted after 20 weeks would simply have an earlier abortion if late-term abortions were banned. However, CBO did explain why it believes late-term abortions save money for the welfare state. “Because the costs of about 40 percent of all births are paid for by the Medicaid program, CBO estimates that federal spending for Medicaid will rise to the extent that enacting H.R. 1797 results in additional births and deliveries relative to current law,” says CBO. “H.R. 1790 would result in increased spending for Medicaid,” says CBO. “Since a portion of Medicaid is paid for by state governments, CBO estimates that state spending on the program would increase by about $170 million over the 2014-2023 period.”
A few thoughts:
(1) Are abortion advocates going to fleetingly morph into budget hawks over $17 million per year? After all, hospital births are expensive.
(2) Since they've reduced the debate over the protection of innocent life to callous, green-eyeshade facts and figures, will CBO also score the effects of aborting hundreds of thousands of future taxpayers -- especially when it comes to annual cash-flow deficits in programs like Social Security?
(3) If late-term abortions "reduce the deficit," how much would we "save" by aborting more children? How many of abortions would it take to make the whole enterprise deficit neutral? And while we're at it, why limit this experiment to very young human life? Surely the active killing of at least some indigent and infirm Americans would produce deficit savings, right?
(4) Also, since we're indulging these amoral calculations, perhaps CBO could project the potential economic benefits and budgetary savings from the hypothetical re-institution of slavery. Second look at indentured servitude, CBO?
(5) Does anyone remember the CBO's score of the Senate's gun control bill, or Politico's story about it? Did the CBO measure how much gun registries would cost to set up, or how many jobs would be lost if certain guns were outlawed? What about how much money taxpayers "save" in future welfare payments whenever children from dangerous neighborhoods are gunned down? I performed a cursory search for CBO reports on the Toomey-Manchin law and the proposed assault weapons ban, and came up empty. Am I missing those?
UPDATE - I've contacted the CBO and inquired which member(s) of Congress requested this bill be scored, and a copy for any such request.
UPDATE II - Ramesh Ponnuru emails: "One more point: as an argument for abortion, deficit reduction swings free from choice. Forced abortions save $ too. Next stop China."
UPDATE III - I spoke to a representative at the CBO who asked that the entire conversation be off the record. It struck me as a bizarre request, and I said so. Still, I'll try to respect it. Broad strokes: CBO is mandated by law to score bills that are reported out of committee. Sometimes members make informal requests for specific scores, but CBO could not comment on whether that was the case on this particular bill. Question: Since the assault weapons ban was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in March, shouldn't that score be floating around somewhere? My search for various iterations of "S. 150" and "Assault Weapons Ban 2013" did not produce the score.
UPDATE IV - An interesting point from a commenter below: CBO recently determined that granting legal status to illegal immigrants would significantly reduce deficits -- but not aborting would-be US citizens would increase them? I think the reason for this apparent disconnect is related to the "scoring windows." CBO concluded that adult illegal immigrants would be able to work and pay taxes immediately (thus affecting the ten-year window), whereas newborns are more of a long-term investment. Therefore, pre-born infants' deaths would cost less than their births in the short term. This entire discussion is surreal.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography