Do Republicans still love the CBO?

DO REPUBLICANS STILL LOVE THE CBO?…. A few weeks ago, the Congressional Budget Office issued a preliminary assessment of the administration’s stimulus package. It was only a partial look at an out-of-date proposal, but it bolstered Republicans’ criticism, so the GOP ran with the misleading numbers. News outlets soon followed.

The CBO has since issued comprehensive analyses of the stimulus package, but the same lawmakers who loved the CBO’s analysis two weeks ago probably aren’t as impressed now.

Remember last week, when Republicans were beating their chests over a Congressional Budget Office report that showed 64% of the money in the House stimulus bill would be spent during the first 18 months after its enactment?

After all, the GOP told us in no uncertain terms, the Obama administration had vowed to spend 75% of the stimulus in 18 months — so the 64% spend-out rate of the House bill represented total failure.

Given that agita, one wonders how the GOP will respond to the CBO’s newest report on the Senate stimulus bill. The budget office found that $694 billion of the bill’s total $884 billion cost would be spent during the first 18 months after enactment, or a spend-out rate of 78%.

By the Republicans’ own metric, that makes the bill a smashing success! Does that mean you’ll promise not to filibuster it, guys?

This new analysis from the CBO comes just one week after a Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf forecasted that without a major economic stimulus plan, “the shortfall in the nation’s output relative to its potential would be the largest — in terms of both length and depth — since the Depression of the 1930s.” McClatchy reported a week ago, “The analysis is sure to add important momentum to the effort to enact an $825 billion stimulus by mid-February.”

It might have added some important momentum, except CBO analyses carry more weight with Republicans when they tell the minority party what it wants to hear.

The New York TimesDavid Brooks wrote last week that the president is “going to have to prove the hard way that he meant what he said about being pragmatic and evidence-based. That means he won’t sweep a C.B.O. study under the rug simply because the findings are inconvenient.”

What an interesting perspective. I wonder if Brooks and other Republicans feel the same way today.

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