Every Republican legislator, it seems, has latched onto the Congressional Budget Office's confirmation that the Affordable Care Act affords older workers, previously forced to work as WalMart greeters or in similarly dismal low-paying jobs simply to avoid medical bankruptcy, the option of leaving those jobs behind and retiring with some dignity and financial security. From far and wide through November we will be hearing members of the political Party that spent the last four years blocking every attempt at job creation by this Administration tout the CBO's projections as if they were a newly discovered Book in the Holy Bible.
The fact that this represents a remarkable conversion for the Republican Party seems to have been lost in the uproar.
Here is what several Republicans had to say about the CBO in 2011, as they sought to discredit the fact that the ACA was self-sustaining and would ultimately pay for itself without adding to the deficit:
The agency's product is nothing more than "budget gimmicks, deceptive accounting, and implausible assumptions used to create the false impression of fiscal discipline," wrote conservative wonks Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Joseph Antos and James C. Capretta in the Wall Street Journal. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says the CBO's numbers are based on "smoke and mirrors." Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), angry that the CBO thinks tax cuts reduce tax revenue - no doubt the agency has also been known to say that the sun rises in the east - has called for the CBO to be abolished.Here is Representative and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) in 2013, attacking the CBO's conclusions on a subject dear to Republicans' hearts--the taxing of multinational corporations. It seems the CBO concluded that Republican positions were invalid:
“This report purports to provide an even-handed review of different policy issues related to the taxation of foreign source income,” Camp wrote to Elmendorf last month.Remember the fiscal stimulus? Almost every Republican opposed it. Here is the CBO again, in a report emphasizing how many millions of jobs it saved or created--jobs that would never had survived if the GOP had anything to say about it. Instead, they ignored it. Rejecting President Obama's jobs plan in 2011, this is what they said:
“However, a closer analysis of the report reveals that it is heavily slanted and biased in favor of one specific approach to the taxation of foreign source income – and relies heavily on sources that tend to support that conclusion while ignoring sources that support a different conclusion,” he added.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL): “This seems to be nothing more than a son of stimulus proposal that will generate more political rhetoric than jobs. If that is the case, I will firmly reject it.”The GOP has even gone so far as to pressure the CBO to withdraw reports that run contrary to conservative "wisdom." For instance, in 2012 they forced the CBO to withdraw a report which found that lowering top marginal tax rates had no effect on economic growth:
REP. ANDY HARRIS (R-MD): “We didn’t hear a whole lot new. This is basically ‘stimulus two.’”
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): “Two and a half years after the President’s signature jobs bill was signed into law, 1.7 million fewer Americans have jobs. So, I’d say that Americans have 1.7 million reasons to oppose another stimulus.”
Don Stewart, a spokesman for the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Mr. McConnell and other senators “raised concerns about the methodology and other flaws.” Mr. Stewart added that people outside of Congress had also criticized the study and that officials at the research service “decided, on their own, to pull the study pending further review.”And here's John Boehner, ignoring the CBO after it found that repealing the Affordable Care Act would add 230 billion to the federal budget deficit:
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“There were a lot of problems with the report from a real, legitimate economic analysis perspective,” said Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee’s Republicans.
“I do not believe that repealing the job killing health care law will increase the deficit,” Boehner told reporters Thursday. “The CBO is entitled to their opinion...[.]The fact is that the GOP has a long, sordid history of ignoring, attacking, distorting, or lying about what the CBO says. And sometimes they really screw up and try to manipulate it like a Magic 8-Ball.
So when you hear Republicans cite to the CBO, it's fair to ask them were they wrong then or are they wrong now?