Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is Obama strong-arming the Congressional Budget Office?

President Obama had a private meeting with the CBO. This is extremely unusual. The CBO is supposed to be strictly nonpartisan. Recently, the CBO had bad news for Obamacare. They said it wouldn't decrease costs and would increase the deficit.

The CBO admission start at about the 3:10 mark.

From the video:
VIERA: But — not to beat a dead horse here, but again, the Congressional Budget Office is looking at those bills that are out there, and they’re saying they do not contain costs. Any one of those bills, would you sign them, based on what you see?

OBAMA: Right now, they’re not where they need to be. But I promise you, I just met with the Congressional Budget Office today, so I know exactly what they’re saying. And what they’re saying is, is that the cost savings that are in those bills right now, some of them may actually work, but they’re not enough to offset the additional costs of bringing in 46 million new people to provide.

Why is this important?

From HotAir:
...the CBO exists for independence from the executive branch in fiscal matters. If Barack Obama needs clarification on CBO scoring, he should work through Congress to get it, rather than demand face time with the CBO director. Even more appropriately, the President should work through his own Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director for analysis of CBO scoring. In this case, Obama has Elmendorf’s immediate predecessor, Peter Orszag, as his OMB Director, who should be able to figure out a CBO analysis on his own and help Obama understand it and respond to it.

After this came to my attention, I contacted two sources in Washington and asked if presidents routinely conferred with the CBO on budget scoring. Both called this highly unusual and could not recall if or when it had been done in previous administrations. It treads on the entire process of legislative oversight and threatens the independence of the CBO from the administration, which is essential for Congress — if it’s interested in independent analysis. (accent is mine)

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