Democrats Want a ‘Wonky Pawn,’ not a Watchdog, at the Congressional Budget Office
Congress operates under an elaborate set of self-imposed rules and procedures to help keep the legislative process moving. Those rules aren’t always perfect, and sometimes members bend or ignore them to fit their needs.
But right now, a few congressional Democrats think even bigger changes are needed to help get the president’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan passed. The biggest change: getting a more compliant director to run the Congressional Budget Office:
[The Biden administration ]has already signaled its willingness to push a bill through Congress with only Democratic votes, a route subject to the byzantine rules of the budget reconciliation process that could muck up Biden’s agenda.
Behind closed doors, Democrats in Congress are considering a drastic move to make their push around those rules easier: Fire the director of the Congressional Budget Office, the scorekeeping agency that measures the federal budget impact of pending legislation. The interest stems from some Democrats’ disappointment over the CBO’s recent scores of the party’s top priorities. Such a move would make the ostensibly nonpartisan office a wonky pawn in the three-dimension chess game Democrats hope to play to push Biden’s agenda through Congress.
The move is being deliberated among Senate Democratic staff, according to several senior Democratic sources, with some outreach to progressive House members. Staffers for the Senate Committee on the Budget, which is chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have already provided Senate Democratic leadership with a list of potential replacements for the role.
Another Democrat concern: the CBO is too worried about the congressional spending spree, and how it may hurt long term economic growth:
The CBO is also likely to continue to raise concerns about rising interest rates and crowding out private investments if Congress doesn’t act to tamp down the deficit—even though that hasn’t happened as a result of the trillions in deficit spending Congress has authorized over the course of a pandemic. The concerns speak to a broader tension that’s emerged in Washington economics in the first months of the Biden administration: Democrats’ embrace of big government and deficit spending defies the conventional wisdom of balanced budgets and highly targeted social programs, wisdom to which both parties had previously subscribed.
Shooting the messenger – a time-honored, and bipartisan, political tactic.