The White House Gets a Basic Math Problem Wrong


Yesterday was the much anticipated release of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the Senate’s healthcare bill, at least if you are a Democrat. Republicans, including the White House, seemed to know that the report, issued by the non-partisan CBO, would likely hurt the prospects of the bill passing. Because of their foresight, the White House decided to try and delegitimize the 43-year old budget office just prior to them releasing a score for the bill on Monday afternoon.

At 2:49 PM EST, the White house sent out the following tweet (see below), not only filled with lies, but also some horrific math. Before we get into the simple laws of numerators and denominators let’s first address what’s wrong with the context of the tweet.

The White House claims that back when the ACA was being pushed through by Democrats and the Obama administration, the CBO report indicated that 23 million Americans would gain health insurance as a result of the ACA. The White House claims this number was just 10.7 million. However, numerous reports indicate that the number falls somewhere between 17 and 22 million new healthcare enrollees since Obamacare went into effect. Besides the White House’s numbers being drastically incorrect, any gap between the CBO’s estimates and the actual number of new individuals gaining insurance under the ACA is likely due to the fact that 19 Republican Governors have refused the Medicaid expansion. There was no way for the CBO to predict that, in mid-2012, the Supreme Court would rule against the mandated Medicaid expansion provision within the ACA. In fact, if the expansion was forced upon all 50 states, the number of those gaining insurance likely would have eclipsed the CBO’s estimate.

Even if we all were living in the alternative universe that the White House seems to be present in, the claim that the CBO score was ‘off by 100%’ is simply a case of bad math. According to the White House, the difference between what the CBO reported and what they claim were the actual numbers is 23 million – 10.3 million = 12.7 million.

12.7 million / 23 million = 0.552 or 55.2%, not 100%.

Clearly whoever created this graphic did not pay attention in 5th grade math class, as they used the wrong numbers in their simple division equation. Let’s just hope the same people aren’t in charge of the Commerce Department or the White House’s budget.