Republican Disingenuous Changes at CBO

Paul KrugmanI got the news this morning from Paul Krugman, Selective Voodoo. As expected, the Republican Congress has changed the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) rules so that they use “dynamic scoring” to take into account the stimulative effects of tax cuts. That in itself is not that bad — in fact, I think it is marginally good. The truth is that tax cuts are stimulative. The stimulus is made at least a little bad by the fact that the taxes that the Republicans want to cut are generally rich people’s taxes. And those are the least stimulative — given that their taxes are already quite low. And in our current situation where the rich don’t have many good places to invest their money, it’s a joke.

The much bigger problem is that the stimulative effects of government spending will not be scored dynamically. This doesn’t make any sense. Government spending — from food stamps to road repair to weapons manufacture — has stimulative effects. There is no question of this. But that’s the thing with this move: it is not meant to make the CBO more accurate in its estimate (and it could use it). It is meant to make the policies that the Republicans prefer sound less expensive than they otherwise would. Meanwhile, a bridge repair will have no stimulative effect — regardless of the fact that people must be paid to build the bridge and those people will spend that money and so on.

But I wonder that the Republicans did it. This must be a move to make the freaks happy. It strikes me as a lot like the filibuster. I’m sure that the Republicans will get rid of the filibuster the moment they have control of the Congress with a Republican in the White House. I would have thought that they would have waited about the dynamic scoring as well. The way it is now, the Democrats will simply change the rules to apply to government spending when they get back in control. And that would be far better than either the current situation or the old situation.

The main concern that liberals have about this (although Krugman didn’t mention it), is that the CBO will become just another partisan organisation. I discussed this last week, Maybe It Is Best the CBO Is Now Partisan. The truth is that the CBO was always partisan — in the conservatives’ favor. Now it is more so. But I think that in the long run, this will make the CBO more accurate and less partisan. Also, I don’t like the idea of supposedly non-partisan groups anyway. The Republicans just define them as “liberal” and ignore them.

What bugs me is that the Republicans are being so disingenuous about this. But that is hardly surprising. Conservatives in general are fact resistant. But when it comes to conservative politician (or influential non-politicians) are just impossible.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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