Sunday, July 23, 2017

Trump Isn't The Only One Who Isn't Normal-- Ryan Gets A Much-Needed Bipartisan Slapdown


Nancy Ohanian's Speaker Paul

Thursday, Paul Ryan told reporters that the CBO analysis of Trumpcare is "bogus" and thereby bolstered the Trump Regime's relentless campaign to undermine and destroy American institutional norms.

Congress created the CBO in 1974 in legislation then signed by President Nixon, although the legislation stemmed from a dispute between Congress and Nixon over whether Congress would maintain the power of the purse granted it very specifically in the Constitution and on which Nixon had been encroaching. The purpose was to generate a source of budgetary expertise to aid in writing annual budgets and lessen the legislature’s reliance on the executive branch's completely partisan Office of Management and Budget. And, sure enough, since 1975, the CBO has supplanted the OMB as the authoritative source of information on the economy and the budget in the eyes of Congress, the press, and the public. It's odd to see a Speaker of the House, choosing to fritter away that key power to the executive branch-- especially this particular dysfunctional and horrifyingly anomic regime.

Alice Rivlin served as the first director (1975-1983) and she was followed by Rudolph Penner, Robert Reischauer, June O'Neill, Dan Crippen, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Peter Orszag, and Douglas Elmendorf, who served until the current director, George W. Bush staffer Keith Hall was appointed by Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan 9th director in 2015. Hall's predecessors all came to his aid last week with a sharp, succinct letter to Paul Ryan and the other congressional leaders.
The undersigned represent every former Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). We write to express our strong objection to recent attacks on the integrity and professionalism of the agency and on the agency’s role in the legislative process.

CBO began serving the Congress in 1975. Over the past 42 years CBO has been firmly committed to providing nonpartisan and high-quality analysis--  and that commitment remains as strong and effective today as it has been in the past. Because CBO works for the Congress, and only the Congress, the agency’s analysis addresses the unique needs of legislators.

To meet the standard of nonpartisan objectivity, CBO makes no recommendations about policy, regularly consults with researchers and practitioners with a wide range of views (as can be seen in the agency’s panels of advisers and reviewers for major studies), and enhances its transparency by releasing extensive descriptions of its analytic techniques and forecast record. To produce estimates of high quality, CBO uses its detailed understanding of federal programs and economic conditions, ongoing interactions with government officials and private-sector experts, the best academic research, and the latest available data consistent with the timing of the Congressional budget process.

CBO’s approach produces consistent comparisons of competing legislative proposals and unbiased projections of the impact of policy changes. Unfortunately, even nonpartisan and high-quality analysis cannot always generate accurate estimates. Policy changes are often complex, the economy is dynamic and defies precise prediction, and many policies are modified over time. However, such analysis does generate estimates that are more accurate, on average, than estimates or guesses by people who are not objective and not as well informed as CBO’s analysts.

In sum, relying on CBO’s estimates in the legislative process has served the Congress-- and the American people-- very well during the past four decades. As the House and Senate consider potential policy changes this year and in the years ahead, we urge you to maintain and respect the Congress’s decades-long reliance on CBO’s estimates in developing and scoring bills.

Ryan was willing-- even eager-- to throw Congress' own budgetary arm under the bus for narrow partisan advantage in his fight to destroy the social safety net and take health care away from millions of Americans in the service of lowering taxes on the very rich. Yesterday we reached out to the two most progressive members of the House Buget Committee, Ro Khanna (D-CA) and the Democrats' Vice Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, Pramila Jayapal, (D-WA) about Ryan's little stunt. Pramila told me that "For years, the public has relied on CBOs independent analysis of legislation impacting the budget. It's alarming that Speaker Ryan has passed legislation through the House, like Trumpcare, without the full understanding of its consequences. That's why my colleague Congressman Higgins and I have introduced score before the floor bill to make sure members of Congress and the people know the full impact of the bills that pass the House."

Ro Khanna was the first member of Congress to endorse Randy Bryce for Ryan's seat. He told us that "It's sad that Paul Ryan is undermining fact based and independent institutions like the CBO. He is exploding the deficit with tax cuts for the rich and has made up numbers of GDP growth. Democrats need to counter with our vision. If we provided college for all, Medicare for all, and expanded tax relief for the working class, we would really grow our economy and create jobs. Republicans have reckless policies to reward the investor class and help the stock market. Democrats want to invest in the working class to create jobs and higher wages. That's the fundamental difference."

Goal Thermometer Mark Pocan has been doing multiple healthcare town halls in southern Wisconsin, not just in his own district but in the district next door, Paul Ryan's district, where Ryan is too scared to face his own constituents and explain why he's working so hard to take away healthcare from 22 million Americans. "It is unheard of for the speaker of the house to criticize the House's own non-partisan agency in order to try to align with President Trump's fantasies," Pocan told us. "I miss the Paul Ryan that once stood up to Donald Trump during the campaign. Apparently, that Paul Ryan is gone and has been replaced with a low-level staffer of the Trump administration with a keen resemblance to Paul Ryan. For the sake of the nation, we need the old, backbone-fortified one returned soon." Not that Pocan expects that. Last week, at a "Where's Paul Ryan" townhall in Racine, he introduced an enthusiastic crowd to the progressive Democrat on track to replace Ryan in Congress next year, iron worker and union activist Randy Bryce.

Bryce and Pocan have very similar perspectives on Ryan. "I remember," he told us, "a time when Speaker Ryan was hesitant to give Donald Trump his endorsement. Just over one month ago Paul Ryan thanked everyone who attended the Wisconsin Republican State Convention for electing Trump. Times have changed indeed. Although they are handcuffed together-- luckily they are too inept to figure out how to work together. Refusing to have a public town hall for almost two years while drinking nothing but D.C. swamp water just might do that to a person. He’s now even calling CBO scores 'fake news.' It’s time to let Paul Ryan return to his construction company roots and finally do something to try to contribute to our society, instead of take things away from and ignore the hard working people of Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district."

UPDATE From Alan Grayson

This morning Alan shared a depressing insight into CBO: "What passes for policy analysis in Congress has always been rigged in favor of magnifying costs and ignoring benefits. When the EPA proposes a regulation, it enquires into both what it will costs and how many lives it will save. In Congress, it’s just dollars, dollars and dollars. Now, when the CBO has taken a tiny, baby step toward measuring the real-world consequences of proposed legislation by estimating how many Americans will lose insurance under Trumpcare, it gets threatened with extinction. In a better world, the CBO, like the EPA, would be telling us how many Americans Trumpcare would kill."

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At 6:38 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Let's give 'em hell Randy in 2018. Keep it up!


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