In the past two months, President Obama has issued an Executive Order on immigration, unveiled a partnership with China to curb pollution and most recently proposed making the first two years of community college free for qualifying participants. This is why the man has an action figure.
How did the Republican-led 114th Congress begin 2015? Well, the House celebrated by passing dynamic scoring.
Dynamic scoring won’t enhance your fantasy football roster, but it will shine a favorable light on your ill-advised budget legislation.
Last Tuesday, the House passed the Pro-Growth Budgeting Act. The Act requires the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation to now use a method of macroeconomic analysis known as “dynamic scoring” to determine a legislation’s effect on the economy.
Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders responded to the Act’s passage via a press release on his site: “The basic problem with what the right-wing economists call ‘dynamic scoring’ is that it requires the CBO to count hypothetical growth as additional revenue.”
Dynamic scoring can apply potential behavioral changes from institutions and people originating from the plan itself on a plan estimate, while the current method used by the CBO uses current rates and numbers. For example, dynamic scoring could be used to support such failed policies as trickle down economics.
Naturally, it makes complete sense that Wisconsin Representative and new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Paul Ryan, instructed the CBO to use the method when analyzing his 2015 budget plan.
At the end of their analysis, the CBO determined: “The amounts of federal debt and economic output estimated for all of the scenarios in this report are highly uncertain.”
Get used to hearing the term “highly uncertain” when discussing estimates from dynamic scoring.
Speaking to The Hill, Ryan defended the need for additional analysis due to the actions of President Obama:
“It is clear that now that we’re five years into this that the President’s policies are weighing down the economy and hurting the budget outlook.”
It is also clear that Ryan has been spending so much time posing in the gym, that he must have missed the news that our economy grew 5.0% in the third quarter. This makes it the fastest rate of growth in 11 years.
“Our economy is firing on most cylinders, whereas the global economy is essentially in dire need of a spark,” Moody’s senior economist Ryan Sweet told Reuters last month.
In October, it was reported that the federal budget deficit fell to $483 billion. This is the lowest deficit since 2008.
Under Obama, the deficit in 2014 was 2.8% of gross domestic product (aka GDP, is the total of goods and services produced by an economy). This is a major accomplishment. For perspective, the 2009 deficit was at 9.8% of GDP.
If you happen to be reading this with Fox News’ Steve Doocy and he points out that 2009 was Obama’s first year in office, then you can remind him that the January 2009 CBO report had already anticipated a $1.2 trillion deficit, which would equal to 8.3% of GDP. You may have to explain it to him in pictures, but he’ll eventually get it. Oh, and keep him away from paint chips.
The CBO writes on their official site exactly why they don’t use methods such as dynamic scoring:
“The convention of not incorporating macroeconomic effects in cost estimates, a practice that has been followed in the Congressional budget process since it was established in the 1970s, reflects several facts: Doing macroeconomic analysis of all proposed legislation would not be feasible; nearly all legislation analyzed by CBO would have negligible macroeconomic effects (and thus negligible feedback to the federal budget); and estimates of macroeconomic effects are highly uncertain.”
The new Act currently only applies to House bills that include taxation or spending equal to 0.25% of GDP.
In a 2013 piece published in The New York Times, Bruce Bartlett (former economic advisor to President Reagan) concluded on the subject of dynamic scoring:
“In practice, dynamic scoring is just another way for Republicans to enact tax cuts and block tax increases. It is not about honest revenue-estimating; it’s about using smoke and mirrors to institutionalize Republican ideology into the budget process.”
During the same week, the House took its first 2015 strike against the Affordable Care Act when it voted to change the ACA’s definition of full-time employees from 30 hours a week to 40 hours. This would result in millions losing their health insurance and revenue from fees from businesses which have not implemented the policy.
The CBO determined the House bill would increase the deficit by $45.7 billion. President Obama has already vowed to veto it.
You guys are off to a wonderful start for the new year.