Davidson to Congressional Budget Office: Show your work

4:48 p.m Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017 Local News
Michael Pitman
U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, has introduced a bill that would require the Congressional Budget Office to show its work when providing budget analysis and projections. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE

Congressman Warren Davidson, R-Troy, wants the Congressional Budget Office to do what every school child is required to do: show your work.

Davidson introduced the CBO Show Your Work Act in the House with Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Mark Walker, R-North Carolina, on Monday pushing for the CBO to disclose data and other details of computations it uses when providing budget and economic information to Congress.

The bill would require the work to be made publicly available online.

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Davidson said the transparency “provides a strong safeguard against errors, omissions and bias.”

“The algorithms, data sets and methodologies in use by the CBO should be readily available for everyone to inspect and use at their own discretion,” he said. “Having this data available will save precious time and staff resources as it lets congressional offices vet their legislation before submitting a final product to the CBO.”

Davidson’s bill will be a companion piece to the Senate’s CBO Show Your Work Act of 2017 that was introduced in August by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Republicans have been critical of the CBO since January when the first push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly referenced as Obamacare, said millions of people would lose insurance coverage. This month’s latest attempt by Senate Republicans to repeal Obamacare — which is Congress’ third attempt — once again saw the CBO issue a report that millions of Americans would lose insurance if the replacement became law.

This third attempt to pass a repeal and replace measure has failed as a third senator, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, joined Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, in voting against the Senate bill.

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GOP Senate members have been criticized for rushing through this third repeal and replace attempt without a CBO score — and some in the House questioned senators for do that, like U.S. Rep. James Comber, R-Kentucky, who told CNN last week, “We’re going to have no idea how many Americans might lose insurance as a result of this. Is it responsible for senators to vote on it without knowing that?”

The scores for the first two attempts to score the GOP-backed repeal and replace efforts saw the CBO’s analysis say those efforts would significantly increase the number of people without health insurance. President Donald Trump and other Republicans quickly denounced the report.

This third report did not say how many fewer, other than “millions fewer.” The bill would reduce the budget by $133 billion, significantly less than the report issued analyzing the repeal and replace attempt this past March.

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But how the CBO came to that conclusion is why Davidson said the budget office needs to show how it came to its conclusions. He also said the CBO’s delay in providing timely analysis for this third attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare “punctuates a long list of reasons why transparency and peer review are essential.”

In July, members of the Freedom Caucus, which Davidson is a member of, introduced an amendment to Congressional spending bill that would eliminate the CBO’s budget analysis division which would cut 89 jobs and $15 million of the budget office’s $48.5 million budget.