LAST WEEK, the Congressional Budget Office reported that, if a bill to repeal health-care reform becomes law, it would add $238 billion to the federal deficit in the next 10 years - and another $1 trillion in the decade after that.
The CBO is the non-partisan government agency that, for more than 35 years - no matter which party controlled Congress - has "scored" the budgetary impact of pending legislation. To those who think facts are important to lawmaking, this would be vital information.
But not to John Boehner, the new speaker of the House. He didn't challenge the agency's analysis or methodology, but simply announced, "I do not believe that repealing the job-killing health-care law will increase the deficit."
Talk about faith-based governing.
That's the way it apparently is going to go in the new Congress: Republicans are simply going to dismiss any facts that get in the way of their narrative while placing the phrase "job-killing" in front of any policy they don't like. The only uncertainty is this: Will they continue to get away with it?
Republican leaders had set the repeal of health-care reform as the first order of business in the House, scheduling a vote for Wednesday. With the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday, consideration of the bill has been postponed to next week. Whenever it happens, the repeal vote will have no practical effect, since the Democratic leadership of the Senate won't bring it to the floor.
As for political effects, that's another matter. Opponents of the Affordable Care Act will continue their hugely successful disinformation campaign about the law, aided in no small part by Democrats' political malpractice in failing to defend it - and much of the media's unwillingness to report its seemingly boring details.
So here are a few more of those annoying facts:
If health-care reform is fully implemented, 93 percent of Americans would have health insurance, according to the CBO. If it is repealed, that percentage would be 83 percent, leaving about 54 million people uninsured.
Health-care reform hasn't killed jobs, but repealing it could destroy 250,000 to 400,000 of them every year, according to a study by David M. Cutler, a Harvard economics professor. He says that, by increasing health-care costs, repeal would lead employers to reduce wages and lay people off. He even provides statistics to support his conclusion.
Polls say that slightly more Americans dislike the health-care reform law than like it, but a closer look reveals overwhelming support for most of its provisions, like outlawing discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions and allowing young people under 26 to stay on their parents' policies, which went into effect last year. The only part of the law that gets low marks is the mandate to buy health insurance.
More benefits became operational last week, including a 50 percent reduction in the cost of prescription drugs that fall into the "doughnut hole" of Medicare Part D drug coverage. And as of Jan. 1, health-insurance companies now must provide rebates to customers if they don't spend at least 80 percent of premiums on providing actual health care. Before that regulation, some insurers had been spending up to 40 percent of premiums on marketing, administration and profits.