Wednesday, August 26, 2009

They shoot, they score

CBO (Congressional Budget Office) scoring has become the hottest thing lately. CBO assessment of a health care plan, for example, is seen as definitive (at least until the results differ from what is desired, at which point the spin comes in - but the numbers themselves are rarely questioned).

So, and it seems to be a question day on the old blog, why can't the magic of CBO scoring be extended to a breakdown of costs and benefits by population segment? Why can't we put the wisdom of these analytic solons to the test of figuring out, for example, what a health care bill will really cost for different people, or anticipating how the market will change in response to passage of any of the myriad of bills we have?

The answer is probably that these matters are too difficult to forecast, that too many different things can happen. But can't that same argument be extended to the areas the CBO is willing to consider? Aren't all of their numbers, all of their revenue and deficit calculations, fraught with uncertainty? Perhaps we all need to take everything we're hearing with huge heaps of salt.

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