Jonathan Chait writes: The Obama administration today released the final numbers on the premiums in the state health exchanges. This is the single most important piece of data we have to gauge the plausibility of the exchanges, which are the crucial mechanism of Obamacare. The premiums are not spin, they are the collective judgment of the marketplace. The conservative judgment of Obamacare has been a ceaseless litany of doom — rate shock, fumbling bureaucracy, unreasonable regulations. If that indictment were true, insurers would be charging higher rates than the administration initially forecast. Instead, the premiums are clearly lower than forecast — 94 percent of customers in the exchanges will have the chance to pay below-forecast premiums.
In 2010, conservatives were highly confident that the inherent awfulness of Obamacare was such that premiums would rise. James Capretta, writing at National Review, criticized the Congressional Budget Office for issuing “rosy premium scenarios.” Capretta argued “this CBO analysis is terribly optimistic … the premium estimates are based as much on judgment as analytics, and CBO’s judgment is clearly on the optimistic side.” Too optimistic! Clearly! Conn Carroll, then at Heritage, enthusiastically endorsed Capretta’s critique.
But now we know the CBO’s forecasts of the premiums were not too optimistic but too pessimistic. Surely this might budge their evaluation of Obamacare, even a teeny bit, right? Their response? Total silence