Thursday, March 9, 2017

The War on Data -- Trump-Care edition

This mostly speaks for itself but here are a few quick points:

After the election, a lot of people started asking how this could happen. A big part of the answer is that, if you neglect and/or undermine fundamental institutions, bad things happen;

This thread is closely intertwined with our discussion of Straussianism and the noble lie. If you believe that the masses can't process the truth and often need to be misled, your first order of business is discrediting and dismantling respected institutions that provide the public with trustworthy data;

We've been on this beat a long time.

Alice Ollstein writing for TPM:
On Wednesday morning, two powerful House committees began marking up the bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act despite the fact that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not yet crunched the numbers on what the plan would cost or how many people would lose their health insurance if it passes.

The Republican authors of the bills refused to say this week if the number of uninsured Americans would grow or shrink under their proposals. Independent estimates of how many people would lose insurance range between two to four million and tens of millions of people. As for how much the plan would cost the federal government, Republican leaders offered no numbers—only vague assurances that it will be "fiscally responsible."

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) told reporters Wednesday that he was not sure when the CBO would release its analysis of the bills, but said he hoped it would be next week, before the bill came to the House floor for a vote. But ahead of that vague release date, rank-and-file Republicans are casting doubt on the agency's judgement.

"The CBO is consistently inconsistent," Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) told TPM. "They can't predict the actual results of a 10-year window, because life changes so quickly. So I don't put that much weight on a CBO score."

Over on the House side, Rep. David Brat (R-VA) laughed when TPM asked about the rush to mark up the bill without knowing its cost or impact. "The CBO, they've scored everything wrong for decades," he said.

Emerging from a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus, Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) agreed. "To tell you the truth, the CBO, I don't see where they get it right," he told TPM. "I don't know what variables or parameters they use to score things. I don't have a lot of confidence in the CBO process."

Asked whose report he would rely on if not that of the non-partisan office, Thompson replied, "Trust me, this bill will be subject to all kinds of alternative analysis."


  1. Well, having at times been in the business of making long-term forecasts myself, I know that it's fraught with difficulties. It wouldn't be at all surprising to learn that the CBO actually does get it wrong much of the time. Actually, it would be surprising if they don't.

    I think it would be interesting to know just how accurate their forecasts have been, and how that compares to others who attempt to forecast similar types of things. Does anyone know of any data sources about that? My prior is that the CBO is not all that accurate, but they're probably also about as good as you can get for this kind of thing.

  2. Just to be clear, when I use words like “trustworthy,” I mean that we trust the institutions not necessarily to get it right, but to use the best available tools and data and to perform their analyses as professionally and objectively as possible.