Good on Carlos Watson this morning for pushing back against Rep. Mike Pence’s attempt to score talking points with the low math-low-info crowd. In a conversation about the cost of health care reform, Pence asserted that the bill currently in committee would raise taxes by $1 trillion dollars.

At that point, Watson interrupted Pence to quote the CBO’s assertion that over two-thirds of the cost of the bill would be offset by cost cutting and other measures and asked Pence if he was certain that the bill would raise money for health care reform with $1 trillion in new taxes.

Spence’s response: “Yes. I’m rounding up.”

The CBO report estimates that “new revenues” – i.e. taxes, fees and penalties – will account for $583 billion of the offset cost to the $1.04 trillion cost of the health care bill. Rep. Spence claims that the health care bill will be paid for with a $1 trillion tax increase. His figure is off by $459 billion – because he’s “rounding up”.

Most people think of rounding up as adding a few cents to the next whole dollar – that is, $1.98 might as well be $2. Rounding up $583 billion to $1 trillion is sorta like rounding up $50.01 and saying you have “about $100”. Technically, since it’s 1 cent over halfway to $100, it’s correct. Intellectually – not so much.


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