This is a jaw-dropping statement from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus on the Senate floor yesterday:

I have also heard it argued that health care reform will raise taxes. That, too, is false. In fact, health care reform will provide billions of dollars in tax relief to help American families and small businesses afford quality health insurance tax cuts. The Joint Tax Committee – again bipartisan and which serves both the House and the Senate – tells us, for example, that our bill would provide $40 billion in the tax cuts in the year 2017 alone … $40 billion in tax cuts in the year 2017. The average affected taxpayer will get a tax cut of nearly $450. The average affected taxpayer with an income under $75,000 in 2017 will get a tax cut of more than $1,300.

Let me repeat that. The average affected taxpayer with income under $75,000 in 2017 will get a tax cut of more than $1,300. They will also get a tax cut in earlier years, but it ramps up to that amount in 2017.

The Joint Tax Committee estimate says the Reid amendment would raise taxes by $370 B over ten years. How can it be false to say that this bill raises taxes?

See here for a description of the major tax increases being considered now: Major tax increases in the Reid health care bill

Chairman Baucus appears to be relabeling new entitlement spending as tax cuts. If you look at Table 2 of the CBO letter on the Reid bill, you will see a line for $338 B of “Premium and Cost Sharing Subsidies” under the heading “Changes in Direct Spending (Outlays).” A few lines down, there’s another $118 B of spending for “Reinsurance and Risk Adjustment Payments,” again part of the changes in direct spending. Those are spending increases, not tax cuts.

If someone else can figure out what Chairman Baucus means here, please let me know. As I read the CBO and JCT estimates, the bill raises taxes, and what Chairman Baucus is labeling as tax cuts are in fact spending increases.