If you’re wondering why it’s taking them so long to show this bill to the public, wonder no longer. They’re caught in a tangle of benchmarks here: Per The One’s instructions, they need the total package to cost not much more than $900 billion over the first 10 years — according to their own bogus metric, of course — and in order to use reconciliation in the Senate, they need the “fix” to produce savings of at least $1 billion. Oh, and they need to figure out a way to do that essentially by tomorrow if they want to try to vote on this thing by Saturday.

Do note: All of those requirements are politically, not substantively, motivated, including the reconciliation process necessitated by bypassing Scott Brown’s 41st vote. We’re long, long past the point here of crafting the best possible bill to reform health care. All they’re doing now is looking for something that can pass and that can be sold, kinda sorta, as “fiscally responsible.”

A story from Congressional Quarterly reports:..

“Rank-and-file Democrats did not talk about the details, but said that the CBO scores [of the House reconciliation bill] had come up short. ‘They were less than expected’ in terms of deficit reduction, said Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, who plans to vote for the bill.”…

There are several things that Democrats are up against when it comes to the CBO score. The most important is that, based on reconciliation instructions, the “fix” bill must be shown to reduce the deficit by at least $1 billion. The challenge is, that’s after assuming that the Senate bill is law. In other words, the reconciliation bill can’t claim any of the deficit reduction from the Senate bill, but rather it must reduce the deficit relative to the Senate bill. Yet the changes that are being talked about will cost a lot of money. This includes eliminating the “Cornhusker kickback” and offering enhanced Medicaid subsidies to all states, increasing subsidies for the purchase of insurance, eliminating the so-called “donut hole” on Medicare prescription drug benefits, and whatever else they put in the bill. At the same time, delaying until 2018 the enactment of the “Cadillac tax” would be scored as a reduction in revenue, and thus add further to the deficit. They’d have to make up the gap through tax increases as well as try to siphon “savings” away from the student loan bill. (More on that here.) But evidently it seems like they’re running into trouble on this front.

Since they’re willing to delay the start of O-Care by several years to create a completely phony impression of how much it’ll cost, why not delay it by an extra year or two? Then it’ll cost even “less”! And why not scale back the “Cadillac tax” exemption to raise some extra deficit-reducing revenue? I’m sure the unions won’t mind; they’re threatening to (giggle) primary Democrats who vote no, you know.

You guys know I’m all about the optimism so I’ll leave you with this: “If President (Barack) Obama and the Democrats repeat the mistake of the health insurance reform adopted here in Massachusetts on a national level, they will threaten to wipe out the American economy within four years.” Does that hold true even if we reduce premiums by three thousand percent?

Update: If they can’t get the numbers to work by tomorrow, is that the final crack in the dam for wavering Dems?