Good article. Although, while it’s probably too late to change it, the sub-head seems pretty odd: “How a little bureaucratic office became the biggest impediment to Barack Obama’s health care plans.”
As the article mentions on page 3 that after the CBO predicted that Baucus bill would cut the deficit “[t]he bill’s prospects improved overnight.”
From what I’ve heard, writers have nothing to do with headlines, but this one just seems odd enough to be worth a fix if it’s possible. I mean, I could see it if you said it was the obstacle to the House bill, that changed a lot as a result of CBO scoring. But has Obama given up anything he really wanted as a result of the CBO score? I don’t see it.
It’s in the print edition, so it’s not going to be changed. But I think it’s a good enough subhead: part of the point of the piece (not the only point!) was that, during the summer, the bill lived and died by the CBO — it exercised a strong pass/fail authority over the bill’s life. And it proved a lot of trouble for Democrats. Indeed, if you look at where the debate’s at today, there’s still a lot of that going on — the sorta-kinda deal they put together last night is contingent upon the CBO’s analysis.
Thanks for the response. I wouldn’t disagree with the pass/fail statement, your gate keeper title really does get to the concept.
Thinking about it a bit more, I’d say it would be fair to say that you could treat the CBO as the big obstacle or the big final test that Obamacare would have to pass. However, that seems to have been part of Obama’s strategy from the start, see his early emphasis on deficit reduction. Perhaps Obama didn’t have a choice in that matter, but his and Congressional Dem’s acceptance that they have to accept the CBO as an honest broker has coincided with health reform efforts getting farther than they ever have in the past.
I’m with Obama on this one, and generally speaking I’d love it if the CBO was our pass/fail test. Even if some of the exploitable eccentricities were removed. That’s a wonk strategist paradise and it seems like it is working out about as well as I could have hoped given the filibuster hurdle.
In other words, it seems like the CBO is an obstacle most devoutly to be wished.
That was a good read. I wonder, couldn’t they make the inherent uncertainty in their forecasts more prominent by providing ranges rather than specific numbers in their forecasts? It seems like an error in precision to say, e.g., that a given flavor of the health reform bill will cost $900 billion — if instead they said that it would cost, say, between $600 billion and $1.2 trillion, that would immediately remind people of the margin of error even if they skip over the verbiage elsewhere that points it out.
Reticulator, haven’t read your comment, but isn’t it another tired variation on the Obama-as-authoritarian-despot theme?
Yes, it IS another variation on that theme. Unless the President changes his ways, we’re going to get even more tired of it than we are now. November 2012 can’t come too soon.
BTW, I’ve since read the article. While it didn’t address this particular point, it was a good one. It would also be interesting to compare with the equivalent functions for state legislators. Some years back the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency was in the news because of its reports on some tax changes that were being proposed. I called the office and got to talk to the director about some questions that were left in my mind after reading the news articles. These were questions about the regressive nature of some of the tax changes that were being proposed. I was quite impressed with the guy, and was pleased and surprised to find that there was an island of integrity and reason in the ocean of governmental corruption known as Michigan politics.