CBO: Congressional Budget Obfuscation

Here’s an interesting little tidbit I learned yesterday: Whenever you see the politicians pull out reports from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) about how such and such bill (oh… say… health care…) is going to be funded and balanced and so forth, it’s basically meaningless.

Why? Because by law the CBO must simply accept whatever information Congress hands it and crunch the numbers according to that data. If Congress hands the CBO a piece of legislation that claims it will be funded by pixie fairies farting gold dust, the CBO is not permitted to say, “Wait, that’s nonsense.” They get to simply roll their eyes, put their heads down and put the numbers through the process. Pixie fairies? You got it boss!

So when the Democrats hold up a CBO report showing that the health insurance legislation is going to balance out, that’s basically just Nancy Pelosi using a report written by Nancy Pelosi to confirm Nancy Pelosi’s figures. They act as though this is some kind of independent audit, but it’s a sucker’s game. It’s a wolf telling farmer Bob that he has the same number of sheep that he had yesterday. If you can’t count on the source, then the report is meaningless.

5 Responses to “CBO: Congressional Budget Obfuscation”

  1. Jesse Says:

    lol, I know this isn’t a laughing matter but I loved the Pixies farting gold dust analogy.. It is pretty crazy how the CBO works (has always been this way) and the fact that nobody wants to change it.. What do ya do..

  2. Ben Tremblay Says:

    I started working on my “participatory deliberation” system (aka “discourse-based decision support”) 35 years ago when I noticed that, left right or indifferent, folk seemed to smother their opinions with ?what? clap-trap.

    Maybe Fukuyama is right; maybe we are all of us as individuals engaged in a life/death struggle for prestige. But I know this for sure: damn few seem interested in doing the right thing well.

    Anyhow, I celebrate all the calls for OpenData and Gov2.0 … but that will only help if folk actually want to deal with brass tacks, nuts & b... … which is why I’ve kept beavering away these 3 decades and more: to find a way for folk to vent (typical blog post comments) without losing sight of the underlying facts.

    Then, with a system like that, obfuscation of any sort from any party will get de-constructed … mitigating against sophistry while promoting the subjective narrative, that’s the name of my game!

    greets
    @bentrem

    p.s. nice preview function. tell me the name of the plugin?

  3. Stephen R Says:

    Ben — it’s the Live Comment Preview plugin.

    I don’t expect all people to keep track of all aspects of day to day government, but if it were all out there, people would ultimately be able to figure out which “watchdog” groups (which would inevitably spring up) they choose to trust. Much like blogs (in fact, it may actually be in the form of blogs) people who are interested would also be able to take that as a starting point and confirm the facts for themselves. Again, all people? Never. But many? Sure.

  4. Ben Tremblay Says:

    Hey Stephen – Sorry I missed your reply; I must not have checked “Notify”. Just now found “strider1.html” in my buffer directory, the temporary copy of my comment … thankfully I had noted the URL for this post!

    I gotta say what you wrote here rang a big bell for me.

    I don?t expect all people to keep track of all aspects of day to day government, but […] people who are interested would also be able to take that as a starting point and confirm the facts for themselves.

    Very much core to my thinking. (“Gnodal” is a snap-shot of where I was in May of 2004. Forced upon me by a catastrophic HD failure that happened.) Are you familiar with Habermas? I digested everything he wrote grappling to understand the continuum of discourse | discussion | debate … something like convince | compel | coerce | conquer. “Discourse ethics” should be key.

    all people? Never. But many? Sure.

    I long ago came to the conclusion that the small number of folk who would very naturally devote energy to issues are being at best ill-served. At worst? Jerked around and mis-directed.
    My “target audience” is a lot like the folk who dedicate themselves to WikiPedia. Folk who want more than the option to click “Like”, or comment like “Yes, this is a great idea!”

    Do you know History Commons? What I imagine for my project (working along a very different axis) would be a lot like that, but applying what I’ve learned about cognitive schema (“user experience”) and the formation of opinions (including “conversion experiences”).

    cheers!

    p.s. peek http://soup.groundplane.org and http://protension.com for some tasty munchies.
    p.s.2 not upgraded to WP3? the new core comment function is jim-dandy peachy-keen

  5. Stephen R Says:

    Yes WP 3, but the theme is old. (Predates child themes!)

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