Monday, January 26, 2009

Non-Existent CBO Report, Cornerstone of Conservative Arguments

Over the weekend you may have heard some right-wing blowhard, or Repuglican mouth-piece come out against the stimulus package, siting a report from the Congressional Budget Office. According to the conservatives this CBO report shows that the vast majority of the money in the stimulus package won't be spent until after 2010. This had the affect of putting Democrats on the defensive and the GOP calling for a pullback in wasteful spending. The trouble was that there was no such CBO report.

"We did not issue any report, any analysis or any study," a CBO aide told the Huffington Post.

On Sunday C-SPAN held a debate between Matthew Yglesias and a conservative mouth-piece about the stimulus package. The conservative naturally brought up the Congressional Budget Office report to dismiss the stimulus plan as too slow to be effective. This conservative of course had never read the report and was just pulling things from the air.

Today, the repugnant Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial based on this supposed report. And The Washington Times’s Donald Lambro wrote practically the same article. Of course David Brooks did the same on Friday.

It does not seem to bother any of these individuals that the report does not exist, and never existed. Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post has reported there is no such CBO report!

This is just another lie being pushed by the right-wing, which is now being endlessly repeated by people who haven’t read the report, but claim they have. You know they haven’t read the report because it doesn’t exist.

Still the press broadly picked up on the right-wing talking points and a simple narrative developed: the stimulus bill won't stimulate the economy.

Did the CBO do anything? Is there some basis for this argument? Yes the CBO ran a small portion of an earlier version of the stimulus plan through a computer program that uses a standard formula to determine a score on how quickly the money of the stimulus package will be spent. This analysis only dealt with the part of the stimulus headed for the Appropriations Committee and left out the parts bound for the Ways and Means or Energy and Commerce Committee. Because it dealt with just a part of the stimulus, it estimated the spending rate for only about $300 billion of the $825 billion plan. Significant changes have been made to the part of the bill the CBO looked at.

The truth is that Congress cannot pass a bill without a CBO analysis. Therefore there will be a number of analysis's done and pulled into a full CBO report. This is what the media should focus on, and they should question any Repuglican who brings up the CBO report before it actually is released.

The White House has tried to push back with a set of talking points and a letter from Peter Orszag, new head of the Office of Management and Budget. He stated that the CBO "analysis, however, did not assess the overall package." "Our analysis indicates that at least 75 percent of the overall package (including its tax component and the other spending provisions that were not analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office) will be spent over the next year and a half."
A new CBO score is due out next week.

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