Under the simple rules of math, two plus two equals four. But House Republican congressional leaders’ new fuzzy rules for evaluating the budgetary impact of legislation blur the lines of simple math. Under their new rules, two plus two may soon equal five.
As an opening salvo for the 114th Congress, in a “largely party-line vote of 234-172,” Republicans in the House adopted a rules package that included a provision asking the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, and the Joint Committee on Taxation, or JCT, to use so-called dynamic scoring in their evaluation of a proposed legislation’s budgetary impact. Under the rule, CBO and JCT would have to arrive at one estimate of the economic impact of a proposed bill—a difficult and uncertain endeavor—and factor that into a final score of the bill’s budgetary impact. This differs from current practice, where CBO and JCT provide, when requested, a range of estimates based on different assumptions and models of how the economy would respond to policy changes. Compared with dynamic scoring, this range of estimated impacts provides lawmakers with more information about the possible impacts of a proposed policy.
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