Paul Krugman points us to this handy chart from Menzie Chinn, showing the deficit effects of the two big tax cuts under Bush II, the Iraq War, and the ACA:
The upward bar at far right is the ACA, which pokes above the zero line because, according to the CBO, the bill actually improves the budget deficit.
Chinn helpfully links to a skeptic of the CBO estimate who nonetheless (1) finds no negative budgetary impact and (2) rebuts the "funny math" charge that's been leveled at the CBO:
Does the package generate budget savings only because it’s using ten years of taxes to pay for six years of benefits?Which is all you can judge the bill by - how it's written. If future Congresses and presidents don't have the guts to carry out the law, then that is their fault. More from the same skeptic, Donald Marron, here.
This appears to be a common refrain among opponents of the package. But it doesn’t hold up either. It is true that the new health benefits don’t start in earnest until 2014; that helps keep the ten-year sticker price down. But those six years of costs are offset by a combination of spending cuts and tax increases during those years, even if you strip out the CLASS Act gimmick. And in the second decade, CBO tells us that the bill reduces the deficit significantly more if–and this is a huge if–it executes as written.