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CBO: Who the heck are they?

The “CBO.”  I now know what the “NFL” is:  National Football League;  I know what the “AFL” is:  The Arena Football League;  I know what “SOS” means:  “Save our Ship.”  “MLB” is Major League Baseball, and “ACS” means either American Cancer Society or Aeromedical Collection Services — my medical billing company.  But I have before today had no clue about the “CBO.”  I know now!

CBO (Congressional Budget Office) provides Congress with nonpartisan analyses for economic and budget decisions and with estimates required for the Congressional budget process.”

OK.  There’s the PC definition of who the CBO is and what they do.  This begs to question more than one thing, however.  First, does anyone believe ANY entity in D.C. can possibly be “non partisan?”  Seriously…the CBO — with a GOP Congress — is going to give budget and economic projections to their “bosses” without a GOP skew, or vice versa with a Democrat Congress?  I think not.

Second question:  why does Congress need any people or agency outside of Congress to prepare economic projections and “analyses for economic and budget decisions?”  Congress is full of lawyers and accountants whose professions before getting to D.C. were in doing just that:  determining financial viability of laws and budgets as well as their legality.

And who “watches” the CBO?  Who determines if they are and maintain their purported  non partisan status?  There are 61 Inspectors General who watch various government branches and agencies that operate in the public domain.  They watch such government entities as the Smithsonian Institute, Federal Maritime Commission, Peace Corps, National Credit Union Administration, the Denali Commission, and the list goes on and on.  Collectively they spend about $1.5 billion in their investigative operations annually.  I cannot verify in any research there IS an Inspector General that watches the activities of the CBO.  How about that:  the “official” government numbers crunchers have no accountability!  That’s a bit convenient, or if not, a bit ironic.

So how have they done in their economic and budgetary projections in recent years?  Well, the largest and most obvious projection, (or “scoring” as they call it) would be the ACA — Obamacare.  If you remember, a Democrat Congress rammed that largest piece of legislation in my lifetime into existence with hardly any debate and NO numbers at all.  In fact, that legislative act led then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to make that most famous public statement in her career:  “We had to pass the law so we could know what is in the law.”  No input at all from the numbers guys at CBO and absolutely NO one in Congress had read the bill before the Democrats passed it in both Houses.  In fact that did not come for quite a while.  And when it did, it sort of missed its projections.  How much?  Let’s take a look:

First, if you Google “CBO accuracy record,” you get a large number of sites that discuss the topic.  But in each, there is a disclaimer prominently displayed:  “Since publishing its first macroeconomic forecast in 1976, the CBO has compiled a forecasting track record that is comparable in quality with that of the Administration and that of the Blue Chip consensus.”  In EVERY web article that pops up, the same or a similar disclaimer is included.  In my life it has been my experience that when anyone says something like this, get ready:  there’s a “gotcha” coming.  Here’s the ACA — excuse me, “Obamacare” — CBO “gotcha.”

“The CBO released enrollment projections for the health care law in March 2010. It estimated that 21 million people would purchase coverage through the new insurance exchanges by 2016.  At the end of 2016, more than 11.5 million  individuals actually signed up for 2017 coverage, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.”  They missed enrollment numbers by approximately 46%.  I’m just a citizen, but missing projections 46% inside a law which has its financial viability based totally on the numbers of Americans enrolled and paying premiums is devastating.  (financial success of the ACA was to be driven by premiums that would be paid by young Americans who would use insurance much less than older Americans.  Their payments would subsidize the much higher premium costs of older citizens.)

So the CBO is back in business scoring the Obamacare replacement proposal by the GOP.  Their scoring came out today.  I’ve listened to about 5 different analyses of their scoring.  As you probably can guess, I’ve heard about 5 different versions of the CBO scoring.  The noise makers are out in full force from both sides of Congress and will be the next few weeks.  We will hear hundreds of politicians from the GOP and the Democrats.  You can bet that each side will paint an entirely different picture for us.  At the end of the day, we Americans must do two things:  get a handle on a real interpretation of the new proposal that we are comfortable in supporting or opposing, and then making sure the lawmakers who represent us specifically know how we feel.  (That was obviously missing in the passing of Obamacare.  No one had a clue what was in the law.)

How should we go about accomplishing that analysis?  My suggestion to you is read, read, read.  Don’t rely on the Left Media or even the Right Media.  You can bet that what they write and say are almost surely skewed to a political perspective that is tilted one way or the other.  You can bet that while the extensive debate is happening (and happening very publicly) you will EVERYTHING there is in this bill as it is today and as it will be as it is revised in Congress.  Pay attention to those changes and their sources.  Try to “see” any things that are in the bill now and any proposed changes that appear to be payback for something.  How do you recognize those?  You can be certain that if any of those things are not tied directly to the meat and substance of the bill, it’s quid pro quo.

Don’t rely on the Congressional Budget Office to ultimately make your decision on this bill for you.  No matter where you ultimately come down on this law, let it be your educated decision.  If I was a politician in today’s political environment I’d certainly try to sway your opinion with “fake facts.”  I’m not a politician and I won’t do that.  What I WILL do is say I trust Americans to be smart enough and caring enough to RESEARCH.

Most Americans do not have unlimited income to spend senselessly for federal or state programs that are designed and implemented by our Government that in their structure are simply to establish and perpetuate political advantages that will allow them to remain in power.  Obamacare was such a program.  We slept and let it slip in the back door — and it cost us $1 trillion dollars a year so far!  America cannot afford a new program like Obamacare.  We cannot afford Obamacare!  We need a true replacement that enhances actual healthcare while reducing costs.  Let’s not rely on the CBO or Congress to “tell us” what’s in this or any proposed law.  Let’s find out ourselves.

“If not us, then who; if not now, then when?”

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