As NTUF and several others noted last month, there were serious questions regarding the assumptions in the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) analysis of the American Health Care Act, the House Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Yet, reading the news coverage of its forecast that 24 million people would lose their health insurance, one might think that CBO's cost estimates of legislation are gospel.
On the contrary, there are numerous examples where its projections have missed the mark over the years, from the CLASS Act, to demonstration programs, and air traffic control reform. In other cases, CBO appropriately qualified its opinion, only to be misportrayed by elected officials with their own agendas. Equally important are those instances where legislation has not been scored at all, even though taxpayers might find the results to be of great interest. These factors are important to bear in mind because the budgetary projections reported (or never attempted) by the scorekeeping agency can determine the fate of legislation. Given CBO’s influence over policy making and the crafting of legislation, a system of reasonable accountability is needed.
This is why NTUF has embarked upon an ambitious new project to establish a Taxpayers' Budget Office to serve as a watchdog of CBO's processes, scoring, and transparency. The Office would be modeled on the Shadow Open Market Committee which was established as an independent organization to provide alternative monetary policy recommendations to official Federal Reserve actions. The TBO would also be able to fill in the gaps on analysis of legislation often overlooked by CBO; this new entity will do so in a thoughtful, constructive way.
We've set up a new website to provide the latest information on the TBO project. Stay tuned for forthcoming posts as we keep tab on how CBO's scores have impacted policy areas like air traffic control reform, student loans, farm bills, and more.