“Dynamic Scoring” Rears Its Ugly Little Head

One of the crankiest of long-standing conservative demands has been for “dynamic scoring” in federal budget estimates. To make a long, tedious story short, “dynamic scoring” would incorporate supply-side assumptions about the growth-generating magic of tax cuts into official budget estimates, enabling conservatives to evade the deficit-boosting implications (and various congressional barriers that come along with them) of their pet proposals for reducing the tax burden of “job creators.”

The ever-intrepid Bruce Bartlett notes at the New York Times‘ Economix blog that with no real fanfare, the House passed a resolution requiring “dynamic scoring” as a sidebar to the Congressional Budget Office’s conventional reports. As you might expect, the new report will be “fair and balanced” only in the Fox News sense of the term:

[T]he House-passed legislation would not require a dynamic estimate for appropriations bills, no matter how large. Republicans want the world to know that tax cuts expand real G.D.P., the capital stock and labor supply, but if spending has any such effect they don’t want anyone to know. Implicitly, Republicans want everyone to think that spending never raises growth because it’s their dogma.

But in the real world, everyone knows that government investments in the national highway system, medical and other scientific research, and other programs unquestionably add to growth. And there are times when government spending can provide macroeconomic stimulus, which the C.B.O. has repeatedly documented, to the consternation of Republicans.

It’s all a mostly symbolic issue, but is part and parcel of the GOP’s longstanding efforts to incorporate its ideology into supposedly objective and nonpartisan sources of information. But aside from the “dynamic scoring” issue, Bruce’s post is worth a careful read because it provides a succinct history of supply-side economics and its baleful impact on the budget and every other element of national policy.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.