How the Democrats Deceived the CBO to Get Their ‘Reduces the Deficit’ Claim

Ace of Spades
October 13, 2009

The CBO has very strict rules about how they “score” a bill. Most importantly, they have to score a bill — or “conceptual language” in a non-bill, as we have here — according to what is written therein, even if it’s jackass.

In other words, if a bill claims that certain things are going to happen that the CBO knows with 95% confidence will never happen — like Medicare payments being cut — the CBO still has to pretend those cuts will happen, even though they know, as we all know, they almost certainly won’t.

Their scoring methodology resembles a computer’s “thinking” — a computer doesn’t think. It follows the rules it’s been programmed to follow, no matter how stupid those rules might be. It has no common sense or judgment. The analysts at the CBO might have common sense and judgment, but they’re stripped of that — prevented from using that — by the “code” of the program they follow, hard-wired into the system by law.

That means that it’s not very hard to trick the CBO’s “programming,” just as it’s no difficult feat to crash a computer. Garbage in, garbage out. And the Baucus bill is specifically designed to produce garbage, to get a “salable number” for the deficit.

And that number, while salable, is 100% false, by design.

Among the tricks used to generate that false number:

1. Increased revenues through increased taxes begin in 2010, but new payments and outflows begin in 2013. Meaning the ten-year window the CBO is required to score contains ten years of higher taxes and higher revenues, but only seven years of higher expenses. This is obviously an apples-to-oranges comparison — and if the CBO looked at 2013 through 2023, with ten years of higher revenue matched against ten years of higher expenses, they’d find a growing deficit, not a faked-up “deficit reduction” of $81 billion.

But the Baucus bill deliberately takes advantage of the artificial stupidity of the CBO’s code to compare seven years of spending to ten years of taxes to get a “deficit reduction.”

Sure it’s jackass to do that. But that’s the way the CBO is supposed to do it — even if it makes no sense — and the Baucus bill “conceptual language” deliberately exploits that in order to deceive the public.

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