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Friday, July 28, 2017

Gutting CBO

Casey Burgat and C. Jarrett Dieterle write at National Review Online:
Rather than allow the agency to continue to conduct the independent analyses it has performed since it opened its doors in 1974, [Rep. Mark] Meadows wants to turn the CBO into an “aggregator” of cost-and-benefit scores performed by private think tanks. In other words, Meadows wants the CBO to serve as a middleman and collect scores from nongovernmental organizations, many of which have an admitted ideological leaning, to create a “composite score” on which lawmakers would rely.
Shifting to an aggregator model would fundamentally alter the CBO’s charter and foundational purpose. The agency was created to generate estimates of legislative costs that are independent of the executive branch’s budget shop, the Office of Management and Budget. The CBO was created by Congress, for Congress, so members would no longer be forced to blindly trust the budget numbers provided by the president’s administration.
If legislative cost estimates were outsourced to think tanks, Congress would give up a rare and vital source of internal, independent information. Furthermore, it’s far from clear that think tanks would even have the manpower or the desire to generate scores for the hundreds of pieces of legislation that are reported each year. In fact, the CBO itself has the resources to analyze only about one-tenth of the bills introduced each year.