Harry Reid Happy With CBO Score He Worked to Guarantee He'd Be Happy With


Ezra Klein is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has seen the CBO scores for the Senate's health care bill, and is "very pleased." Of course he is: It's doubtful that we'd be getting a score today if he weren't; according to one of Klein's recent posts, the reason we didn't see the score last Friday, as originally expected, is that the CBO's numbers came back to Reid, but weren't what was hoped. As a result, the bill, according to Klein, was "tweaked and trimmed until CBO [gave] Reid the answer he's looking for." Indeed, this is often how the scoring process works: Legislators work closely with CBO to push and pull at various elements of the bill until the CBO's math produces the desired result. So given that Reid knows exactly what it will be in advance (he sees preliminary numbers), can choose to release the score or resubmit again, and has been working with the CBO to make sure the numbers are to his liking, it's hardly surprising to see that, on a high profile bill like this, Reid is happy with the result.

NEXT: Sacrificing Goats to the Olympian Committee

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  1. Q: What is two plus two?

    A: What would you like it to be?

    1. "Ask a housewife how much two and two is, and without hesitation, she'll tell you it's four.

      "Ask an accountant and he'll say 'I'm fairly certain, but let me run through those figures once more.'

      "Ask a doctor and he'll think about malpractice, and say 'I'm fairly sure that at the very least it's three.'

      "Ask a lawyer and he'll lock the doors and draw the curtains, and whisper 'How much do you want it to be?' "

      "Cheap Lawyer" - Lyrics by Murray Porath

      1. If watching laws be made is as bad as seeing sausage made up-close...can you *imagine* what the CBO scoring/Harry Reid-bargaining/scoring/re-submitting process looks like??

      2. No - the song is supposed to be about me, but it was written by Frank Hayes. I wrote the rebuttal. 🙂

  2. Reid is happy with the result

    And his obedient vassals in the press will be happy to spin it favorably,
    adding that Obama "inherited" this massive deficit.

  3. I'd be happy with a result that showed Harry Reid impaled by a pitchfork.

    Auditor: He took a good one in the leg, sir.

    Me: The leg?! You better get a major organ on that thing, or I'll find someone who will!

  4. Suderman, it is way too much to expect Klein to figure that out on his own, or even understand it if you explain it to him. This is a guy who can't even figure out how to use Netflix, after all.

  5. This...doesn't seem like a bad thing to me. I mean, shouldn't the CBO's analysis result in changes to a bill? Is there something nefarious about the tweaking process? I'll admit that I don't really know what sorts of tweaks Reid might be applying here. But broadly I'd think iterating with the CBO would be a good thing, though a modicum of transparency would be nice too.

    1. That's the question -- did he change the bill, or did he keept it the same and simply browbeat the CBO into revising its report into something more favorable?

    2. When I read the word "tweaking", I wasn't thinking of honest tweaking.

      I was thinking of the "lets levy taxes for 13 years to pay for 10 years of a program and call the program deficit neutral" kind of tweaking.

    3. The problem is that in order to be fair, a consistent method for computing the cost needs to be used, but once the method is specified, it can be gamed to make the costs look smaller in the report while not actually changing the substance of the bill.

    4. Andynet,

      I'm not saying it's a bad thing. I'm saying that the process is set up so that *of course* Reid will be happy with the bill. That's why it's being released. If he wasn't happy with it, it would be delayed further. Legislators tend to tout CBO scores as good news in such a way to suggest that there was some uncertainty about how it would shake out. But there's almost no uncertainty or risk of a "bad score"; they don't release the bill and score until they get the numbers they want.

      1. James: My ignorance will show (even more) here. But is that level of "tweaking" allowed on a bill? I would think that would involve a large modification of the bill (and one which members might no longer support).

        Matt XIV: (Related to above) Gamed how? (Feel free to point to a blogger who explains.) Presumably gaming of the sort in James' nightmare scenario is implausible.

        Peter: But didn't the CBO trash the Republicans plan? Doing a simple google search for "republican plan cbo score" yields a piece by...Ezra Klein (among many others). So it does seem like the CBO numbers can be damning. Are you saying the release of bad CBO numbers basically means the management of the bill was incompetent?

        Again, I'm just trying to get a sense of degree of tweaking here, and I realize that will vary on a case by case basis. But I still see it as a good thing, _if_ there's some way for the lay public to get some handle on just how tweaked the numbers might be. For example, if even the tweaked Republican bill was "thrashed by the CBO" (a phrase popular among the left-leaning sites that reported the news, it seems), then was the underlying bill actually much much worse?

  6. Fudging numbers in science. Bad.

    Fudging numbers in business. Bad.

    Fudging numbers in Congress. Friggin' awesome!

  7. Let's be clear, here.

    All the crap Reid had to take out to get a decent CBO score is going right back in in conference committee. So even if he changed to bill to lower its nominal cost, its just temporary until he gets the press and votes he needs.

  8. All you Obama bashers need to wise up. Your republican friends were in power for 8 years and did a TERRIBLE job. Obama is doing something no other president can claim and that's reforming our health care system. If the republicans had a REAL alternative they would've implemented it during their 8 years of rein. But wait, they didn't, because they like the status-quo, and portability for health insurance isn't going to solve our health care problems. I mean really, what a lame alternative lol.

    1. Troll elsewhere, boylover.

  9. Deform. The word is deform.

    1. Health Care Deform.

      Not bad. I've been thinking that we need a bumper sticker sized assessment of the whole thing.

      That's getting closer, but it still doesn't quite have the right ring to it.

  10. A partial solution, of course, would be to make any bill submitted to the CBO a matter of public record, along with the score it receives.

  11. In the house bill much of the "cost" information was "TBD" (to be determined) or NOT YET AVAILABLE - in which case the CBO does not apply a cost figure. What a system!

  12. Y'all are missing the really important thing here. The important thing is not how much it costs. The important thing is accomplishing Democratic social engineering goals.

    The CBO be damned. The people will clearly not be engineered by voluntary choice. They won't enslave themselves just because you asked them nicely. Therefore you cannot leave them any choice, if the goal is to be accomplished.

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