Republicans Block Reappointment of CBO Chief Doug ElmendorfDavid Weigel
Incoming Republican leaders in Congress won’t reappoint Doug Elmendorf to another term as head of the Congressional Budget Office, according to a party aide briefed on the decision.
The move comes after a campaign from conservative lawmakers who want to change the way the CBO calculates the costs of government, said the aide, who requested anonymity to discuss a personnel decision. The office provides nonpartisan budget analysis for members of Congress that includes estimates of the cost of legislation.
Elmendorf, 52, an economist with experience at the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve, was appointed to run the CBO in 2009 when then-director Peter Orszag was picked by President Barack Obama to run the White House Office of Management and Budget.
In 2011, Elmendorf won a full four-year term, after Republicans took control of the House while Democrats retained the Senate. A CBO conclusion that Obama’s signature domestic achievement -- the 2010 Affordable Care Act -- was cutting costs pleased Democrats, while Republicans appreciated the office’s finding that the health-care law and a proposed minimum wage increase would cost jobs.
Even as Democrats lost their Senate majority in the November election, some economists who side with Republicans said that Elmendorf should keep his job.
“His background insulates his rulings and the congressional Republicans who choose to reappoint him from accusations of bias,” wrote Keith Hennessey, who served as President George W. Bush’s final director of the National Economic Council and is now a lecturer at Stanford University’s business school.
Republican lawmakers who have questioned the office’s analysis were unmoved. They agreed with calls from incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price for a new director who might introduce so-called dynamic scoring to CBO analysis.
Dynamic scoring is the idea that policy changes can induce significant macroeconomic effects, such as tax cuts partially paying for themselves. Democrats say the method is unproven and relies on too many assumptions.
Price, a Georgia Republican, had previously introduced a bill to require a dynamic score from the CBO, and the Republican House passed the measure.
Price’s office declined to comment.
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