Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty(rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
Now that I have digested some wonderful Thanksgiving food and celebrated my grandson’s first birthday, it is time to get back to work. In light of the recent calls by Rep. Paul Ryan, Rep. Eric Cantor and former Speaker and current GOP Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich to terminate the non-partisan Congressional Budge Office (CBO), I couldn’t help but wonder why the Republicans have a problem with the CBO? The CBO has been critical of both parties legislation in the past when the numbers just didn’t add up. Could this latest announcement by the CBO that the Obama Stimulus package of 2009 is still stimulating the economy be the last straw for the Republicans in their support of the Congressional Budget Office?
“Despite Republican mythmaking that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) “created zero jobs,” the CBO reported that the stimulus added up to 2.4 million jobs and boosted GDP by as much as 1.9 points in the past quarter. As it turns out, that conclusion confirms the consensus of most economists – including John McCain’s 2008 brain trust- that President Obama’s recovery program is continuing to deliver benefits for the American people. From the beginning, the CBO has testified to the success of the largely concluded 2009 stimulus package in driving employment and economic growth. (That’s one reason why Republicans like GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich want to abolish the agency.)
Now, as The Hill reported Tuesday, the CBO has found that “President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package continues to benefit the struggling economy”: The agency said the measure raised gross domestic product by between 0.3 and 1.9 percent in the third quarter of 2011, which ended Sept. 30. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that GDP in that quarter was only 2 percent total. CBO said that the stimulus also lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.2 and 1.3 percentage points and increased the number of people employed by between 0.4 million and 2.4 million… By CBO’s numbers, the $800 billion stimulus added up to 0.9 million jobs in 2009, 3.3 million jobs in 2010 and 2.6 million jobs in 2011.” Crooks and Liars
The CBO Abstract that provided these numbers just won’t jive with candidate Newt Gingrich’s opinion of the stimulus and along with his past concern with the CBO’s projections on Obamacare might just have led to this recent call to abolish the CBO. “Gingrich’s animus is hardly surprising. When House Republicans proposed HR 2 in January to repeal the dreaded “Obamacare,” they quickly got a rude awakening from the CBO. Demolishing Republican talking points on the subject, the CBO concluded repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase, not decrease, federal budget deficits: Over the 2012-2021 period, the effect of H.R. 2 on federal deficits as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues is likely to be an increase in the vicinity of $230 billion.
That result did not fit the GOP script. So House Majority Leader Eric Cantor doubled down, essentially accusing the agency of lying. Cantor also disputed the claim, put forth by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, that the health care reform bill passed by Congress last year will actually reduce the deficit by $143 billion, calling the figure “budget gimmickry.” “I think what we do know is the health care bill costs over $1 trillion,” Cantor told Hill. “And we know it was full of budget gimmickry. And it spends money we don’t have in this country.”‘ Perspectives
What facts do Newt and his fellow CBO detractors bring to try to prove that the CBO is lying or is inaccurate? As best that I can tell the only argument that they use is the “Trust Us” argument. The CBO numbers tell us that the slow economy would be even worse had the stimulus package of 2009 not been passed and for some reason Mr. Gingrich and company can’t handle the truth.
If Speaker Gingrich does not want to believe the CBO numbers on anything that supports the Obama Administration, why has he praised and utilized the CBO in the past when it suited his agenda? “Gingrich himself has been complimentary to the CBO in the past. In 1995, he bragged, “We’re still very proud of the fact that — as a team — House and Senate Republicans passed the first balanced budget in a generation. . . . We did it honestly, using the Congressional Budget Office, which was tough.” ‘ Washington Post
What will it take for politicians of any stripe to actually admit when legislation backed by their opponents has been successful? I and many others here have criticized the Obama Administration in the past on its failure to prosecute the Torture enthusiasts from the Bush Administration and for declaring that it is legal for any President to put American citizens on assassination lists without any judicial oversight. Bloggers and commenters have correctly excoriated the Obama Administration for not including single payer elements into Obamacare. Shouldn’t we hold the Republicans up to the same standard of truth when it comes to an agency of Congress that has been non-partisan since its inception?
For Rep. Cantor to claim that the CBO is basically lying and then not produce any evidence to back up the claim is egregious. Especially since Cantor is the one making the incendiary claim and he is also the House Majority Leader. Maybe we should be happy that Cantor only called the CBO liars. He could have called them Socialists as Newt Gingrich did! Do you think the Congressional Budge Office is truly non-partisan and if not, why not? Let us hear what you think. Don’t be shy! Happy Thanksgiving!