Last week, Sen. Kennedy launched a press release cheering the CBO scoring of his HELP Committee’s health legislation:

The Congressional Budget Office has carefully reviewed our complete bill, and we are pleased to report that the CBO has scored it at $611.4 billion over 10 years, with the new coverage provisions scored at $597 billion – a significant reduction from earlier estimates.
How did Kennedy reduce his bill’s cost? First, as the CBO explains, he cut back on the outlandish subsidies to individuals with income up to 500% of the federal poverty line. These subsidies make up the vast majority of the bill’s CBO-scored cost. If Kennedy is truly concerned with fiscal responsibility, he can simply drop these subsidies altogether and save the budget another $600 billion. Otherwise, this new spending entails a massive tax down the road.
Not that Kennedy is waiting to start taxing Americans. Another important component of his bill imposes a $750 annual per employee fine on firms that do not provide health insurance benefits. Kennedy coyly calls this “shared responsibility”. ATR calls it a tax. It ultimately imposes a cash penalty on employees who prefer to receive wages in its most liquid form (money), bullying them into employer insurance that they may not value. If Americans want health insurance, we should let them buy it on the free market.
Democrats keep telling us the cost of doing nothing is too high, yet they always manage to find a way to drive costs higher. If they need help looking for ways to cut costs they should try looking across the aisle to Sen. Jim DeMint’s Health Care Freedom Act.