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The House Republican leadership is scrambling to defend the obliteration of its own budget rules, as it prepares to pass repeal of health reform without offsetting the $143 billion 10-year cost, let alone the $1 trillion 20-year cost.

Incoming House Majority Whip Eric Cantor is claiming Republicans need to create a giant loophole because the Democrats manipulated the Congressional Budget Office into giving phony cost estimates for health reform. NYT reports:

“First of all, about the budget implications, I think most people understand that the C.B.O. did the job it was asked to do by the then-Democrat majority, and it was really comparing apples to oranges,” Mr. Cantor said. “It talked about 10 years worth of tax hikes and six years worth of benefits. Everyone knows beyond the 10-year window, this bill has the potential to bankrupt this federal government as well as the states. So that speaks to the budget implications of that.”

That is one giant lie, one that has already been debunked.

Conservatives have long dishonestly claimed that the Democrats rigged the health reform law with “10 years worth of tax hikes and six years worth of benefits” to mask the cost over the traditional 10-year window of CBO estimates.

Paul Krugman shredded this claim last year, noting that, “the revenues, like the costs, are minimal for the first four years.”

The implication of the charge is that Democrats needed to rig the bill because over time health reform would be enormously costly. But that claim requires pretending the CBO didn’t analyze the long-term implications. As Krugman wrote:

Claims that the plan is window-dressed to look good in its first decade only to go sour later might sound plausible – except for the fact that the CBO projects bigger deficit-reduction in the second decade of the reform than in the first decade, something that wouldn’t happen if lots of costs were being hidden by being pushed off into the future.

Don’t want to take Krugman’s word for it? Don’t want to read the CBO report for yourself?

Fine. Then ask yourself what The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn is asking. Why won’t the Republicans ask the CBO to score its repeal bill?

If the CBO was only manipulated by the way Democrats “asked” it to score the bill, the Republicans can easily “ask” the CBO to score repeal in the most super-duper honest way possible.

But they won’t. Because they know what the answer will be.

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