Published March 08, 2010
President Obama, making his final push for health care reform, pitched his proposal Monday to a crowd in Pennsylvania with a deficit-reduction figure that the White House later admitted missed the mark.
"Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill, which reduces most people's premiums and brings down our deficit by up to $1 trillion dollars over the next decade because we're spending our health care dollars more wisely," Obama told an audience at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pa., a suburb north of Philadelphia.
Obama was so proud of these cost-saving numbers in the latest version of health care reform, he delved into a bit of Washington-speak to back them up.
"Those aren't my numbers," Obama said to the rising applause of the estimated 1,300 in attendance. "They are the savings determined by the Congressional Budget Office, which is the nonpartisan, independent referee of Congress for what things cost."
But the budget office did not say the Senate health care bill would save $1 trillion over the next decade -- or even close to that figure.
It estimated the bill would save $132 billion from 2010 to 2019, leaving Obama's "next decade" estimate $868 billion short.
When contacted about this disparity, a White House official said Obama meant to say the Senate bill would save $1 trillion in its second decade -- a projection that would more closely match congressional analysts' estimates.
The budget office, in estimating possible second-decade savings of up to $1 trillion, also cautioned against putting too much stock in figures for a period so far in the future: "A detailed year-by-year projection for years beyond 2019 ... would not be meaningful, because the uncertainties involved are simply too great."
Nevertheless, Obama is pressing Congress to act on reform measures in the face of united Republican opposition and a Democratic majority that is nervous about the upcoming midterm elections. He made the case Monday that all issues had been considered, all ideas vetted. It is time to take a stand he said.
"We have debated health care in Washington for more than a year," Obama said. "Every proposal has been put on the table. Every argument has been made. The need is great, the opportunity is here. Let's seize reform. It's within our grasp."
Fox News' Major Garrett contributed to this report.