Should we abolish the Congressional Budget Office? | The Tylt
Should we abolish the Congressional Budget Office?
The CBO is a fundamentally non-political and non-partisan group. Congress created the CBO to push back against executive authority over the budget. In the process of taking back power, the Congressional Budget Office was created to provide Congress with impartial numbers that could also be weighed against the White House's own projections.
It also, almost as an afterthought, created the CBO — Congress’s own budget office, envisioned as a counterpart to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The rationale was that Congress was sick of relying on the White House budget office’s projections, and viewed them as frequently biased, either for institutional or partisan reasons. So members seem to have decided, well, why not get our own?
In the past, the CBO has resisted pressure to come up with good numbers to help sell legislation. They don't have any agenda, they just run the numbers to see what will happen if Congress implements its ideas.
But perhaps the most pressure ever put on a CBO director came during the health reform fight under President Bill Clinton. According to Haynes Johnson and David Broder’s book The System, CBO Director Robert Reischauer was intensely and often angrily lobbied by top Democrats to make scoring decisions that they hoped could help Clinton’s health bill. He was told that his intransigence would lead to many deaths if health reform failed, as well as the destruction of the Clinton presidency.
Reischauer didn’t budge in the end, and his eventual CBO report, which found that the Clinton plan would add $70 billion to the deficit over five years, was blamed by some Clinton allies for sinking the entire effort. “You’re under a lot of pressure, there’s no question about that,” Reischauer told me. “People have strong views. They express them to you privately, and if you don’t have the hide of a rhinoceros, you would not sleep at night and be in pretty bad shape.”
However, some politicians say the CBO has a history of being inaccurate. Gingrich points to the fact that the CBO overestimated the number of people who would enroll in Obamacare. But to be fair, everyone was wrong, and the CBO was the closest. But that doesn't change the fact that were wrong. Gingrich is proposing outsourcing the reports instead.
"They should abolish the Congressional Budget Office," Gingrich told Fox News host Martha MacCullum on The First 100 Days. "It is corrupt. It is dishonest. It was totally wrong on Obamacare by huge, huge margins. I don't trust a single word they have published, and I don't believe them."
The former Speaker called the CBO's scoring system "disgustingly wrong," and proposed replacing the office by "putting out to bid and having three to five professional firms score these things."