Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is President Obama Strong Arming the Congressional Budget Office?

"It strikes me as somewhat akin to an owner of a team asking the umpire to come up to the owner’s box,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said Wednesday. The President invited CBO Director Doug Elmendorf, the director of the CBO, to the White House on Monday to meet with Obama and senior officials.

The invitation came a few days after Elmendorf testified that Democratic healthcare reform proposals would add to long-term government spending on healthcare, an assessment some Democrats have called “devastating.” Obama’s advisers have claimed that healthcare reform will eventually reduce government spending. A senior GOP aide said: There’s no question about the motivation for the meeting. Last week’s CBO estimate knee-capped the House and HELP bills.”

A second GOP aide said: “In all of CBO’s 35 years, this is the first time a CBO director has ever been called into the White House to meet with a president in this way.” Democrats have suggested Congress jettison the CBO’s cost estimates and use projections from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is headed by Peter Orszag, Obama’s chief guru on healthcare economics.

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