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The End of Fuzzy Math


Location: Unknown

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We all know by now how the public was duped when it came to selling the merits, constitutionality and math behind the health care law.

First we had to pass the bill, as Speaker Pelosi said, to find out what was in it.

And it wasn't a tax, we were told, until of course the Supreme Court ruled that it was.

Throughout the entire process we heard over and over, despite adding tens of millions of people into new government-run insurance programs, the law would actually save money and cut the deficit. The notion defied logic.

Yet the President, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeated this continually to win passage of the bill. They were able to do so with perceived credibility because the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said the bill would cut the deficit. Even beyond determining that the healthcare bill would "save" taxpayers money, the CBO also calculated that only three to nine million people would lose their health insurance from their employer as a result of the legislation.

Respected business analysts like McKinsey have found that the actual number of employees being "dumped" as a result of the healthcare law could be as high as 100 million. Even a new analysis by CBO earlier this year found that the actual cost of ObamaCare is double what they originally projected.

How could the numbers be so far off?

The Congressional Budget Office was created to provide objective analyses of the economy and federal budget for the Congress. In addition, the CBO is required by law to produce a cost estimate - or "score" - for every bill coming out of committee of either chamber of Congress.

But, the problem is, no one knows how CBO arrives at their numbers and they won't tell us. They don't have to. CBO is not required to "show their work" when announcing economic impact results.

That is why I introduced the CBO Transparency Act, to shine the light on CBO and give lawmakers and the public an opportunity to review the CBO's work.

The concept is simple and one we can all relate to from our grade school days. Our arithmetic teachers expected us to show our work when solving math problems. A number on a page, even the correct answer, did not suffice because our teachers wanted to see the computation we used to arrive at that number. My transparency bill is no more complicated than that.

With a mandate to determine legislative impact on the federal budget, CBO wields tremendous authority. A favorable or budget-neutral score makes the difference for a bill's success or failure as Members of Congress and the public place great weight on the CBO score. Like any scientific study or data-driven process, opening up the details of CBO's analyses and data for greater inspection and peer review will allow lawmakers and the public to better understand how scoring decisions are made. It is a crucial component of sound governance.

So when the CBO says the stimulus "saved" 3.3 million jobs, or tax rates don't impact decisions by individuals or businesses, or that cutting spending will slow economic growth, we have no way of challenging the conclusions because we can't see how they arrived at them.

Our decisions are only as good as the data upon which they are based. It comes down to open and transparent government. With our national debt closing in on $16 trillion, major safety net programs like Medicare and Medicaid are headed for bankruptcy. Washington has to act now to save them.

But it's not just about acting; it's about taking the right fiscally sound actions. My bill, backed by Americans for Tax Reform, is a commonsense measure to allow lawmakers in Congress, the public and business analysts alike to thoroughly examine the defining cost estimates of major pieces of legislation that will have an imprint on our fiscal health now and into the future. Most importantly, it will ensure we don't make costly mistakes that you the taxpayer must clean up. By opening the CBO data for review, we can go even further in getting our fiscal house in order.

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