On Monday—the same day the president attacked political rivals in a speech to Boy Scouts and the U.S. Senate prepared to vote on a health care bill that no one had actually seen—Mark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus and representative of North Carolina's Eleventh Congressional District, proposed his own means of undermining democratic norms.
His big idea: gut the Congressional Budget Office, the agency that has consistently projected that GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare would leave more than twenty million Americans without coverage.
In an amendment introduced Monday, Meadows proposed slashing eighty-nine positions from the agency's Budget Analysis Division, a $15 million cut that would effectively abolish the division. Its work would be transferred to another division, where employees would be required to aggregate and score data compiled by four think tanks: the conservative Heritage Foundation, the Koch-funded American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institute, and the left-leaning Urban Institute.
What this means is that the CBO would simply regurgitate data from third-party groups, some of which have political agendas, rather than use its expertise to analyze and score the impact of legislation on its own.
"The CBO's reputation among the public and the media may be strong, but its track record in providing accurate estimates to Congress leaves much to be desired," Meadows and Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, groused in a Washington Examiner op-ed.
In reality, the CBO more accurately predicted the effects of the Affordable Care Act than other forecasters, and it pretty much nailed the uninsured rate. What you have here is part and parcel of something we're seeing more and more from congressional Republicans on matters ranging from health care to the press: if you don't like the facts you hear, just pretend they're not real.