Professional analysts respond to Republican incompetence and cowardice


Don’t omit avarice

❝ Top Republican legislators have spent months now attacking the Congressional Budget Office. House Speaker Paul Ryan derided the agency’s Obamacare numbers as “bogus,” speaking to reporters at an event in Massachusetts Thursday.

The CBO directors are fighting back. All eight signed on to a letter Friday to raise a “strong objection to recent attacks on the integrity and professionalism of the agency.”

❝ The letter continues:

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.

❝ This is the first time, I’m told, that all eight former directors have signed on to a joint letter. The group includes those appointed by Republicans and Democrats

❝ The CBO directors don’t expect to become a regular presence in the fight over the office’s numbers. One reason there was some hesitation to put out the letter is that they didn’t want to commit to an ongoing feud with Congress — but felt the attacks had become fevered enough to warrant a response.

As the former CBO director I spoke with put it to me, “We believe in the norms of our political system. And we believe, strongly, that the CBO is one of those norms.”

Like many nations, the United States can count on the dedication and professionalism of virtually the whole of our civil service. Most could earn more in private industry. The concept of serving your country is meaningful to most civil servants as it is to our military lifers.

Which is different from the sort of lifers we encounter all too often in Congress. Not all. But, too many.

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