Dems attack budget reform bill as dynamic scoring initiative

But Democrats said Republicans are hoping to write into law this requirement in a bid to make it easier to justify tax cuts because the CBO would presumably find that tax cuts would help the economy.

"Their only interest, almost to the point of a fetish, is to … favor tax cuts as the only ways and means of growing our economy," Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) said. "This legislation would allow Republicans to really, really understate the effect of tax cuts on the deficit, hiding their impact, masking their real cost, and paving the way for extensions and new tax policies that favor tax cuts only."

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Moore argued further that Republicans only seem interested in the effect of tax cuts on the economy, and said Democrats could argue that CBO should run dynamic scoring on government programs that help the economy — "Investments like early childhood education," she said as an example.

"Why don't we dynamic scoring on that? Healthcare. What about scoring the impact of what providing healthcare would do in terms of decreasing the costs to our companies?"

More broadly, Democrats rejected the Republican argument that tax cuts can boost the economy to the point that new growth generates enough revenue to make up for the lost government revenue caused by the tax cuts.

"This bill is designed to make it easier to pass large tax cuts without having to find real savings in our current budget," Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) said. "It relies on the thoroughly discredited notion that tax cuts do not add to the deficit, that they magically pay for themselves."

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, noted that while the bill calls for further CBO analysis, it assumes that the Bush administration tax cuts from a decade ago, which President Obama continued, will never be repealed.

"The way this bill is drafted, we would not get an economic analysis on one of the most consequential tax changes this body could take in the remaining year," Van Hollen said.

Republicans acknowledged that the bill would give members a sense of how CBO sees major bills affecting the economy, but said this would be a supplement to CBO's "static" analysis, and would not replace CBO's current practice.

"Economists from across the political spectrum agree that major legislation considered by Congress has significant effects on economic growth, and we ought to be looking at that consequence," Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said.

Debate on the bill was preceded by comments from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who said this and other budget reforms are needed because the current process has led to trillions of dollars in debt.

"The greatest threat to our economy now, and our children's future, is a fiscal threat, a debt threat," Ryan said. "And yet, we are on an unsustainable path, and one of the reasons — other than a lack of political will among our colleagues — is the budget process."

Members were expected to consider up to eight amendments to the bill before voting on the bill later Thursday.

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