Supporters of the House Republican healthcare bill have been touting the fact that it reduces deficits, but according to the Congressional Budget Office, if enacted, it will not have achieved deficit reduction for seven years — until well into a theoretical second term for President Trump.
In an updated estimate reflecting changes made to the bill earlier this week, the CBO said that the law would cumulatively reduce deficits over the next decade, from fiscal year 2017 through 2026, by $150.3 billion. But because the law repeals Obamacare's taxes more quickly than it repeals the spending, a further breakdown (see chart) finds that the deficit reduction would be heavily backloaded.
For the first four years of its implementation — 2017 through 2020 — the legislation would actually increase deficits each year, for a cumulative total of $104.7 billion. In 2020, the proposal would start phasing out Obamacare's subsidies and expansion of Medicaid, and replacing them with GOP reforms. Starting in fiscal 2021 (or around the time of the next presidential election), the bill would start bringing down deficits. But it wouldn't be until 2024 (or year eight) that all of the deficits from the earlier part of the decade would be wiped out and the bill would start to be a net deficit reducer.
The fact that the spending reductions are delayed until the 2020 election year has been one obstacle to gaining conservative votes for the bill, as some members are skeptical that the most hotly contested elements of the legislation would actually be implemented in the height of an election, especially if Republican majorities are reduced in the 2018 midterms.