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Cost at heart of GOP attack

From NBC's Mike Viqueira

Congressional Budget Office chief Douglas Elmendorf's contention this morning the so-called "cost curve" will bend upward and not downward as a result of reform currently being formulated by Democrats is going to go off like a stink bomb in Congress today.

Along with covering the 50 million Americans who are uninsured, the raison d-etre of this whole thing is to do something about the runaway costs of health care, which is closing in on amounting to one-fifth of gross domestic product and is considered a drag on the economy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded minutes later by asserting that the legislation will change during the course of the legislative process, now underway in earnest today on the House side as committees take up and mark up the bill.

"I think we can bend the curve more," Pelosi conceded, but not before taking a shot at the CBO for declining to count savings afforded by expanded preventive care. Notwithstanding the current to-ing and fro-ing, Pelosi says, "I am confident that the president can sign a bill in the fall."

Before Elmendorf spoke, House GOP whip Eric Cantor reprised the Republican attack on the president's policies at a press conference.

"This stimulus plan has been a flop," he said, adding, "This is President Obama's economy."

Video: The Financial Times' Chrystia Freeland joins MSNBC's Carlos Watson and Richard Wolffe to debate whether President Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus package is actually working.

Next up is House Minority Leader John Boehner for his weekly session with reporters.

Cantor appeared with a small group of House Republican freshmen who took turns blasting the health-care bill as placing an onerous tax burden on small business. The GOP line of attack is basically this: that the $280/350k surcharge will hit small businesses the hardest because of the way that many are structured for tax reporting purposes.

That assertion is under dispute.

*** UPDATE *** Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement:

The Director of the Congressional Budget Office confirmed today what we have been saying for weeks: the health care spending plan that some are trying to rush through Congress would actually make things worse. Americans want reform that makes health care more affordable and accessible, not a so-called reform that leads to rising costs and a government takeover of the whole health care system. Americans saw what happened when some in Congress rushed through the trillion-dollar stimulus bill earlier this year. They don't want us to make the same mistakes on something as important and personal as health care. Today's CBO testimony should be a wake-up call. Instead of rushing through one expensive proposal after another, we should take the time we need to get things right--especially at a time when hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing jobs every month.