Friday, August 24, 2012

Did Paul Ryan Game the CBO Scoring System?

Of course, he did.

Even Paul Krugman has figured this out:
As I pointed out a few days ago, CBO did not score the policy provisions in the Ryan plan; there wasn’t remotely enough detail for a comprehensive assessment, and they didn’t do a partial of what was specified. Instead, they laid out the implications of revenue and spending paths that were just assumed per Ryan’s instructions — without expressing any view about whether these paths were plausible.

Indeed, I think I detect a bit of discreet snark in what the CBO report actually did say. On revenue, it declared:
The path for revenues as a percentage of GDP was specified by Chairman Ryan’s staff. The path rises steadily from about 15 percent of GDP in 2010 to 19 percent in 2028 and remains at that level thereafter. There were no specifications of particular revenue provisions that would generate that path. (my italics)
On spending, they declared:
That combination of other mandatory and discretionary spending was specified to decline from 12 percent of GDP in 2010 to about 6 percent in 2021 and then move in line with the GDP price deflator beginning in 2022, which would generate a further decline relative to GDP. No proposals were specified that would generate that path. (my italics, again)

So Ryan gamed the system: he got CBO to produce a report which looks to those who don’t actually read it like a validation of his numbers, when in fact he prevented any actual scoring of his proposals. If you think otherwise, you’ve been snookered.


  1. The CBO is and has always been a mouthpiece of whichever party has the majority in the House.

  2. The idea that Ryan manipulated the CBO scoring implies that the CBO scoring is legitimate in the first place. Anyone that understands how the CBO is required to score legislation knows that its always a joke as it was setup to be gamed. For Krugman to point this out demonstrates that he is either very naive of how the CBO works (which I doubt) or he is trying to be intellectually dishonest with his audience.