Can we Trust CBO figures?

Republicans argued the Congressional Budget Office inaccurately projected the numbers of people left uninsured by proposed programs. Can the CBO be trusted?

What is the CBO?

The CBO has provided Congress with reliable and impartial budget information on the efficacy of policies for over four decades. It has a track record of providing high-quality reports that are as good as or better than others. Its longer-term estimates have been better than its short term estimates, as one might expect.[1]

In a letter written by Dan L. Crippen, the former CBO director and endorsed by every past director of the organization, he emphasizes that, since its formation in 1975, the CBO has kept to a strict standard of nonpartisan objectivity. Its sole job is to provide the Congress with unbiased projections of the impact of legislation. While not always exact, their track record has been excellent.[2]

A CBO Projection

When the CBO projected that the Senate’s last healthcare bill would be likely to generate higher deductibles than most people see in salaries, they pointed to a disturbing trend in American medical insurance.[3]

For a graphic presentation of the rising costs of healthcare, please see KFF.org. The risings costs of drugs and care, insurance policies, and deductibles is perhaps as much of a concern as the effect of any individual programs we may use to address the problem of medical care.

In fact, although premiums have only risen slightly, deductibles have risen dramatically. Workers earnings have risen 11% while deductibles have increase 63%.[4] This is just one example of a CBO projection that is backed by solid data although its specifics may not prove to be 100% accurate in the long run.

Summary

The CBO is fallible, but it has historically been our government’s most accurate was to estimate the fiscal impact of our programs and it factors in the broad trends we are aware of.

Citations

  1. What is the CBO, and Can You Trust its Numbers on the Republican Healthcare Plan?
  2. Former CBO Directors to Congressional Leaders: Back Off, We Have a Job To Do
  3. Under the Latest Senate Healthcare Bill, Deductible Could Be More Than Some People Earn
  4. Average Annual Workplace Family Health Premiums Rise Modest 3%