Ex-CBO directors offer scathing criticism of Mulvaney

Ex-CBO directors offer scathing criticism of Mulvaney
© Greg Nash

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney’s comments attempting to discredit the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) damage his own credibility, according to Alice Rivlin, the CBO’s founding director.

“I think it is unfortunate and that Mulvaney damages his own credibility by blaming the CBO,” Rivlin told The Hill.

In recent weeks, Mulvaney has made multiple public comments disparaging the CBO, the nonpartisan organization tasked with evaluating how bills in Congress would affect the budget, the economy and other important indicators.

Mulvaney has lashed out against the office for economic growth projections that he calls pessimistic, as well as a report estimating that millions of people would lose health insurance as a result of the ObamaCare repeal bill.

“If you’re making large cuts in Medicaid, how can you pretend that people will not lose their Medicaid insurance?” asked Rivlin, who was a budget director under former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMontana governor raises profile ahead of potential 2020 bid Dem senator ties Kavanaugh confirmation vote to Trump-Putin controversy Don't place all your hopes — or fears — on a new Supreme Court justice MORE.

On Wednesday, Mulvaney questioned in a Washington Examiner interview whether “the day of the CBO come and gone," called its nonpartisan status into question, and personally called into question the work of one CBO expert, Holly Harvey, who had worked as a civil servant, not a political appointee, in the Clinton administration. 

The CBO’s current director, Keith Hall, is a Republican appointee.

Rivlin rushed to the CBO’s defense.

“It has substantial, experienced staff dedicated to doing exactly one thing, estimating bills and estimating what the consequences are, and the CBO has been used by the Congress for four decades now as a neutral arbiter,” she said.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, another former CBO director who served as an adviser on Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Memo: Summit fallout hits White House Graham: Biggest problem is Trump ‘believes meddling equals collusion’ Obama, Bush veterans dismiss Trump-Putin interpreter subpoena MORE’s 2008 GOP presidential campaign, said in a tweet that Mulvaney’s words “are a disgrace, reflect more poorly on him than CBO, and show budget ignorance. Should apologize.”

Peter Orszag, a Democrat who has also served as both OMB and CBO director, also criticized Mulvaney. He note criticism that Mulvaney, in his own recent budget, double counted savings from tax reform to show a balanced budget within 10 years.

"Director Mulvaney's comments are particularly astonishing given the $2 trillion double count that was embodied in the budget he just released," he said.

Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthOvernight Health Care: Trump meets with Pfizer CEO amid pricing push | Kentucky reinstates dental, vision Medicaid benefits | Spending by health lobby groups down in second quarter Kentucky reinstates dental, vision benefits in Medicaid Dem lawmaker: Trump finally got his 'largest audience ever' in London protests MORE (Ky.), a Democrat who supported Mulvaney’s nomination for White House budget director last year, said Mulvaney had overstepped.

“Impugning the integrity of a public servant who has dedicated her career to producing sound analysis for decision makers,” Yarmuth said in a statement. “He needs to apologize.”