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Monday, July 27, 2009

White House Doesn't Appreciate CBO's Analysis, Claims They 'Overstepped'

(Cartoon by Brian Farrington, found at Townhall)

What is the Congressional Budget Office?

From the CBO website:

CBO's mandate is to provide the Congress with:

* Objective, nonpartisan, and timely analysis to aid in economic and budgetary decisions on the wide array of programs covered by the federal budget and

* The information and estimates required for the Congressional budget process.

Simple enough, clear and concise, unless of course the White doesn't like their analysis, then they claim that analyzing those very programs they are set up to analyze is "overstepping".

This is what White House Budget Director Peter Orszag had to say in a letter posted Saturday on the White House website, in response to the latest blow the CBO landed against Obamacare, which we covered yesterday.

Administration officials say the proposed "Independent Medicare Advisory Council" would both improve health care quality and control costs. Some health care industry groups object to the proposal, saying such a council would not be qualified to make those judgments.

The CBO's review of the proposal found that "the probability is high that no savings would be realized … but there is also a chance that substantial savings might be realized," Elmendorf wrote.

"Looking beyond the 10-year-budget window, CBO expects that this proposal would generate larger but still modest savings on the same probabilistic basis."

Orszag, a former director of the CBO, pointed out that "it is very rare for CBO to conclude that a specific legislative proposal would generate significant long-term savings so it is noteworthy that, with some modifications, CBO reached such a conclusion with regard to the IMAC (Independent Medicare Advisory Council concept."

But he also criticized Elmendorf's findings.

"As a former CBO director, I can attest that CBO is sometimes accused of a bias toward exaggerating costs and underestimating savings. Unfortunately, parts of today's analysis from CBO could feed that perception," Orszag said.

"In providing a quantitative estimate of long-term effects without any analytical basis for doing so, CBO seems to have overstepped."

I would love to know how the non-partisan CBO "overstepped" in analyzing the proposal handed to them and to which Congress asked for their analysis.