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News Monday, Jul 24 2017

Republicans are trying to gut the nonpartisan CBO after a sobering ACA repeal score

Jul 24, 2017

“Republicans wrote a terrible healthcare bill and now they’re trying to silence the truth about their plan’s consequences.  The Congressional Budget Office – led by a Republican – revealed the bill would cost 32 million people their health care​.​ B​ut rather than creating a better bill, Republicans want to scrap the agency that exposed the recklessness of their own plan.  That says all we need to know ​regarding ​how much the GOP cares about families struggling to afford health insurance. Here’s a novel idea: instead of writing a terrible bill and trying to hide its consequences, why not work with Democrats on a better plan?” said Andrew Bates, spokesman for American Bridge 21st Century.

The Hill: Meadows: CBO should downsize, aggregate think tank reports
BY NIV ELIS – 07/24/17 02:20 PM EDT

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, plans on offering an amendment to spending legislation this week that would cut the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s staff by 89 people.

The proposed cuts come after a series of CBO reports predicted that tens of millions of people would become uninsured under various Republican plans to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said Monday that, instead of relying on the CBO’s expertise to assess how much congressional bills would cost, the office should aggregate estimates produced by various think tanks like the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation.

“They ought to be aggregators; there are plenty of think tanks that are out there,” Meadows said at a National Press Club event.

Meadows said Griffiths would use a rule called the Holman Rule, which allows Congress to cut salaries for individual federal workers, for the first time since 1983.

The Freedom Caucus and many members of the Trump administration have been highly critical of the CBO. The CBO has consistently stated that efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would lead to a 20 million-person increase in the nation’s uninsured.

The office will also score legislation such as tax reform, where deficit estimates will be crucial to passage.

“They’re the one group that makes a weatherman’s 10-day forecast look accurate,” Meadows said.

The amendment will be offered to the “minibus” spending bill due to come to the House floor this week, which combines four security-related appropriations bills into one.

On Friday, every former CBO director signed a letter to congressional leadership to “express our strong objection to recent attacks on the integrity and professionalism of the agency and on the agency’s role in the legislative process.”

The letter pushed back on accusations that the CBO’s scores did not hold up over time.

“CBO’s approach produces consistent comparisons of competing legislative proposals and unbiased projections of the impact of policy changes. Unfortunately, even nonpartisan and high-quality analysis cannot always generate accurate estimates,” the directors wrote.

“Policy changes are often complex, the economy is dynamic and defies precise prediction, and many policies are modified over time. However, such analysis does generate estimates that are more accurate, on average, than estimates or guesses by people who are not objective and not as well informed as CBO’s analysts.”

While the healthcare debate has put the CBO in the headlines, its day-to-day scoring work is devoted to bills that garner less attention and would be less likely to be reviewed by think tanks.

Last week, for example, it produced scores for bills such as the Amber Alert in Indian Country Act, Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Bonus Transparency Act.

Published: Jul 24, 2017

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