April 15, 2010

Catching up... CBO Scoring: All You Can Eat, Baby!

Hatched by Dafydd

As you've probably surmised, everything anent translocation is taking much longer than we expected; as we must vacate the old reptillian presence by Thursday (that's today!), you can likely imagine the -- er, Upper Iguanan fire drill, trundling back and forth between the two domiciles toting dozens of boxes on scores of trips. All this is special pleading, of course, trying to bias your response to the post below. To quote the one-termer, "that's how we roll."

I've puzzled for days over the scoring of ObamaCare by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO); what exactly does it mean to say that a bill will reduce the deficit... when we all know, including the board of directors of the CBO, that it actually adds hideous amounts to the deficit?

The explanation is simple: The CBO must, by law, score in accordance with the assumptions provided by Congress -- rather, by the majority party in the House and Senate -- no matter how preposterous, mendacious, or insane.

Pondering this quirk of the law, I think I have come up with a good analogy to illustrate its absurdity. Suppose you decide upon a weight-loss program. You visit a reputable doctor, describe your new diet, and ask him to estimate how many pounds you will lose in the next six months. You say:

  • My new diet is called the Pizza and Cheesecake Freakout Diet; I eat nothing but those two food items.
  • I will eat only one half of one slice of pizza and one tablespoon of cheesecake per day... nothing else.
  • I will spend six hours each day in the gym, seven days a week, vigorously exercising -- I will burn 3,000 calories a day doing so.
  • How many pounds will I lose by October, Doc?

By some bizarre section of the medical licensing regulations, the doctor is barred from questioning any of the assumptions you gave him. In theory, then, he could calculate how many calories you claim you will consume, subtract how many you say you will burn in the gym, subtract the calories you burn simply by daily existence, multiply by 182 days, divide the total by 3,500 calories per pound -- and tell you the absurd answer of how many pounds you will "lose"... probably 200 or somesuch.

He knows it's nonsense, but he is forbidden from using more accurate figures. His only choices are to give you the fantasy answer you clearly desire, perhaps enabling you to get some job that has an upper weight limit or some other scam... or else quit the medical profession.

But why would the law require the CBO to operate under such ridiculous constraints? Let me rephrase the question: Why would Congress force the CBO to accept Congress' own bogus assumptions? Why wouldn't Congress allow the CBO to second-guess the legislators instead? Put this way, I believe the question is self-answering.

My guess is that many of the economists working at the CBO are frothing at the mouth, wishing they could make a real projection of what ObamaCare will do to the federal deficit. But of course, they can: All they need do is quit their phony-baloney government jobs and go to work for the Heritage Foundation!

Here's hoping that they all simultaneously come to their senses; admit that money and prestige are less important than truth, a reputation for integrity and competence, and good public policy; and resign en masse. A forlorn hope is better than no hope at all.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 15, 2010, at the time of 9:07 AM

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The following hissed in response by: MarkJM

You need to send this to Rush (ElRushbo). (Not that you don't already have the 'reach' of the massess, but you have a valid point that 'many' people need to consider.) I'm glad you've settled into your new abode. Hopefully, I'm in my last house (North FL). "Moving" is in my top five of things I 'don't like to do'...

The above hissed in response by: MarkJM [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2010 9:58 PM

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