- The Washington Times
Monday, March 13, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The U.S. Congressional Budget Office is unassailable and nonpartisan — when it produces a report that favors one’s politics. But when doesn’t? Well then, the CBO is a master manipulator of data, using tortured statistics to get to their desired result and should be ignored.

We’re seeing this debate play out in real time, as the House Republicans’ proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare was scoured by the CBO Monday. It estimated the GOP bill would decrease the budget deficit, but lead to an extra 21 million uninsured by 2020 and increase premiums by 15 to 20 percent over the current law.


Predicting a mixed outcome, the White House Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney pointed to the CBO’s misses in past analysis — and questioned the agency’s ability to predict the outcomes of any new legislation — in an interview Sunday with ABC’s “This Week.”

“If the CBO was right about Obamacare to begin with, there’d be 8 million more people on Obamacare today than there actually are,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “So, I love the folks at the CBO, they work really hard. They do. Sometimes we ask them to do stuff that they’re not capable of doing.”

And he’s right.

The CBO released Obamacare projections in 2010 that estimated 21 million people would purchase health care through Obamacare’s exchanges by 2016. At the end of last year, only 11.5 million individuals had signed up for the insurance — 9.5 million short of its projection, and even more than Mr. Mulvaney said.

The CBO also projected 30 million people would be uninsured last year because of the Affordable Care Act. In March 2016, it lowered those estimates to 22 million — a difference of 8 million exactly.

Yet, Democrats will use the CBO’s new health care report as a political hammer — because they think it favors their politics. And the mainstream media is greasing the wheels for them.

On Monday, USA Today reiterated the CBO’s impartiality — as a trusted news source.

“The CBO is an independent, nonpartisan office that analyzes the budgetary impact of proposed legislation,” USA Today explained to its readers. “Because of its commitment to and reputation for objectivity, even sharply divided ideologues usually trust its conclusions and adjust legislative proposals based on its findings.”

But that’s not what happened in 2014 — when then-President Obama was pushing for support of his minimum wage bill — and the CBO found 500,000 jobs would be lost because of it.

Mr. Obama called the analysis inconsistent with leading economic thought, and that his proposal to raise the minimum wage would have absolutely no impact on employment — and the media played along.

“Zero is a perfectly reasonable estimate of the impact of the minimum wage on employment,” Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman told reporters in 2014, in response to the CBO’s damning analysis.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi echoed the White House’s remarks, and questioned the thoroughness of the report.

“In past years, the CBO itself has acknowledged the uncertainty of its own predictions and ignored new perspectives in the wide array of analysis on the minimum wage,” Ms. Pelosi said at the time.

Predictably, Republicans embraced the CBO’s minimum wage analysis.

Depending on what side you fall, the CBO’s reports can embolden or discredit political arguments. If it emboldens, then the agency is the most trusted, nonpartisan analysis out there. If it discredits, then lawmakers will look to discredit it.

That’s a Washington fact.


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