BUDGET OFFICE veterans defend work as flak flies.
WASHINGTON — The former directors of the Congressional Budget Office — a bipartisan group that includes some of the nation’s most eminent economists — published a letter defending the agency Friday morning after weeks of criticism from the Trump administration.
President Donald Trump’s deputies have attacked the budget office publicly and relentlessly in response to its unforgiving analyses of Republican proposals to repeal parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Although the agency’s current director, Keith Hall, was appointed by a Republican Congress, the administration has argued that the methods the agency uses are unsound and that its staff favors the Democratic agenda.
Partisan criticism of the budget office is nearly as old as the agency itself, which began operating in 1975.
The text does not mention any specific criticisms or the White House explicitly. It is addressed to the top Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate: House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
“Relying on CBO’s estimates in the legislative process has served the Congress — and the American people — very well during the past four decades,” the authors wrote, using the intiials of the Congressional Budget Office.
The signatories of the letter include Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a conservative supporter of the GOP effort to dismantle the 2010 health law, as well as Peter Orszag, who served as budget director in the Obama administration.
The budget office is tasked with providing lawmakers with impartial information about the federal budget, taxes and the national debt.
According to the latest projections from the agency, issued Wednesday, the Senate’s version of the GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would result in about 22 million additional Americans going without insurance after a decade.
The federal government would save money and premiums would decrease overall in the individual market under the GOP plan, the budget office said. But at the same time, some consumers — particularly older, upper-middle-class adults — could pay thousands more in premiums, and typical deductibles could increase to as much as $13,000 a year.
The Trump administration has argued that the budget office failed to accurately forecast the effects of the Affordable Care Act when it was initially passed. The agency overestimated the number of people who would gain insurance under the law. In particular, according to the administration, the budget office places too much emphasis on the law’s requirement that every American carry health insurance.