On The Congressional Budget Office


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is making some news these days with its "scoring" of the Republicans' attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare; a.k.a., The Affordable Health Care Act (ACA).

Just on the off chance you were not aware, any estimates coming out of the CBO should be viewed from afar as possibly interesting but having nothing to do with reality.

And, here's why:

The CBO has rules it MUST follow when evaluating any measure Congress puts forth. To make a long story short, these rules state that the CBO may only evaluate the words in the measure offered. It is NOT allowed to factor in the reality of the world.

When the CBO evaluated the original ACA its estimates varied based on what changes were being made as the ACA developed.

This is true today with its evaluation of the Republican's replacement plan(s).

Let me give you a simple example, an analogy, as to how the CBO MUST operate:

Assume I want the CBO to evaluate my personal financial plan for the next 5 years. My income is a fixed $200,000 per year and my expenses are $250,000. However, in my "plan" I state the assumption that I will win the lottery this year - the lottery worth $20,000,000.

The CBO must evaluate my plan based on ONLY the information I give it. Never mind that the chances of my actually winning the lottery is effectively ZERO.

It is NOT that the people doing the analyses are being duplicitous; it's the rules those people must follow that are not realistic.

It is no more complex than that. Never take any CBO "scoring" as truly meaningful.