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senate Bill S. 278

Should the Congressional Budget Office Have to Show its Work by Making Data & Models Public?

Argument in favor

Congress needs a scorekeeper like the CBO, but there’s no reason for it to keep its fiscal and economic models a secret. The public deserves to know how the models they pay for work.

burrkitty's Opinion
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06/06/2019
Yes. Transparency transparency transparency. Even if we can’t see every output scenario from the model due to national security concerns, if the model itself is subject to the scrutiny of peer-review, the outcomes are more trustworthy. Put the models and all possible data out so it can be scrutinized. Thats how scientific models are put through the wringer. That’s how it should work for government too. SCIENTIFIC AND EVIDENCE BASED POLICY!
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Cherie65's Opinion
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06/06/2019
Transparency. From what I've read, Liberals are afraid of this...it will show how well Trump's policies are working. The debt has gone up slightly since we are trying to overcome the horrid Obama care debacle and his gutting of our national security/manufacturing jobs, but it will change as our economy grows after the trade deals are complete and more jobs=more taxes. It will take a while. Thanks, Obama----> #worstpresidentever .
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David's Opinion
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06/06/2019
They’re spending our tax dollars and affecting our economy. I’d want to know what they’re using to base their decisions. Edit: To countable users; in the details sections of these bills, it’ll almost always (even on budget bills, heck even this one) say that a CBO cost estimate is unavailable. Without the cost estimate, can we really make an informed opinion?
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Argument opposed

The CBO should continue to keep its fiscal and policy models a secret so that they’re not subject to politically motivated criticism. The public doesn’t need to know how the models work.

Rebekah 's Opinion
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06/06/2019
There is no excuse to politicize and cast aspersions at one of the few truly nonpartisan agencies left.
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Aaron's Opinion
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06/06/2019
While I believe in transparency, this bill will likely serve as a means to discredit the office when it is politically advantageous. Given the way public education has suffered in the last 40 years and the average citizen's grasp of mathematics it would be a simple exercise for an ambitious politician to make hay of this ignorance for their own gain.
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Ryan's Opinion
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06/06/2019
This is simply an attempt by the GOP to continue attacking the independent CBO.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Budget
    IntroducedJanuary 30th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 278?

This bill — known as the CBO Show Your Work Act — would require the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to make fiscal models, policy models, and data preparation routines that it uses in estimating the costs and other fiscal, social, or economic effects of legislation publicly available in a manner that allows them to be replicated. For any data that the CBO can’t release, it would be required to provide a list of all data variables, descriptive statistics for those variables (to the extent it can be disclosed), and contact information for whomever has unrestricted access.

This bill’s requirements would take effect six months after the bill’s enactment.

Impact

The public; and the CBO.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 278

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to improve the legislative process by making the CBO more transparent and accountable

“Congress does need a scorekeeper to provide budgetary estimates for the policy changes it considers. But at a bare minimum, that scorekeeper should be forced to show how its models work. Currently the CBO doesn’t have to do that. That is why I have reintroduced the CBO Show Your Work Act of 2019,” Lee continued. “This bill would require the CBO to publish its data, models, and all details of computation used in its cost analysis and scoring. CBO would keep its role as official scorekeeper of congressional budget proposals – but now the American people and the economic community would be able to see what’s going on in all those spreadsheets and algorithms.”

When he introduced this bill last Congress, Sen. Lee said:

“Congress does need a scorekeeper to provide budgetary estimates for the policy changes it considers. But at a bare minimum, that scorekeeper should be forced to show how its models work. Currently the CBO doesn’t have to do that… This bill would require the CBO to publish its data, models, and all details of computation used in its cost analysis and scoring. CBO would keep its role as official scorekeeper of congressional budget proposals -- but now the American people and the economic community would be able to see what’s going on in all those spreadsheets and algorithms.”

FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group, supports this bill. Its president, Adam Brandon, writes

"Created by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Act of 1974, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provides members and staff of the House and Senate with fiscal and economic analyses of legislation and budget forecasts. The CBO, however, is not currently required to show the models and data on which it makes its assumptions. While the CBO is an independent, nonpartisan agency, the agency has been criticized for providing inaccurate analyses and forecasts to Congress, including economic projections that failed to predict a major recession and wildly inaccurate assumptions about the impact of the Affordable Care Act. More recently, the CBO provided coverage estimates on health insurance reform legislation guided by a baseline that was not grounded in reality... The CBO Show Your Work Act would require the CBO to make the models and data employed to produce its analyses and cost estimates, as well as any details that were used, available to Congress and on the agency’s website. This much-needed transparency will allow interested parties outside of Congress to hold the CBO accountable... Analyses and estimates produced by the CBO have a tremendous impact on public policy debates inside the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is important that the models and data used to come to the conclusions that the CBO reaches are open to the public."

The CBO's defenders argue that trying to meddle in the CBO's processes undermines the agency's legitimacy as a neutral arbiter of fiscal disputes.

There are 19 Republican Senate cosponsors of this bill in the 116th Congress. A House companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) with 14 Republican House cosponsors' support, has also been introduced in the current Congressional session.

In the 115th Congress, this legislation had the support of 22 Republican Senate cosponsors and didn't receive a committee vote. The House companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Davidson, had 16 Republican House cosponsors and also didn't receive a committee vote.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: CBO / Public Domain)

AKA

CBO Show Your Work Act

Official Title

A bill to require the Congressional Budget Office to make publicly available the fiscal and mathematical models, data, and other details of computations used in cost analysis and scoring.

    Yes. Transparency transparency transparency. Even if we can’t see every output scenario from the model due to national security concerns, if the model itself is subject to the scrutiny of peer-review, the outcomes are more trustworthy. Put the models and all possible data out so it can be scrutinized. Thats how scientific models are put through the wringer. That’s how it should work for government too. SCIENTIFIC AND EVIDENCE BASED POLICY!
    Like (70)
    Follow
    Share
    There is no excuse to politicize and cast aspersions at one of the few truly nonpartisan agencies left.
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    Transparency. From what I've read, Liberals are afraid of this...it will show how well Trump's policies are working. The debt has gone up slightly since we are trying to overcome the horrid Obama care debacle and his gutting of our national security/manufacturing jobs, but it will change as our economy grows after the trade deals are complete and more jobs=more taxes. It will take a while. Thanks, Obama----> #worstpresidentever .
    Like (36)
    Follow
    Share
    They’re spending our tax dollars and affecting our economy. I’d want to know what they’re using to base their decisions. Edit: To countable users; in the details sections of these bills, it’ll almost always (even on budget bills, heck even this one) say that a CBO cost estimate is unavailable. Without the cost estimate, can we really make an informed opinion?
    Like (27)
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    Share
    If we’re afraid of politically motivated criticism of budget projections, we should be equally worried about politically motivated data manipulation.
    Like (20)
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    Absolutely! This is a government agency! They work for us! They can’t put out data or models without showing where they came from or how they created it! Our government should be as transparent as possible with the public!
    Like (17)
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    While I believe in transparency, this bill will likely serve as a means to discredit the office when it is politically advantageous. Given the way public education has suffered in the last 40 years and the average citizen's grasp of mathematics it would be a simple exercise for an ambitious politician to make hay of this ignorance for their own gain.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    Passing this at least gives those who care the tools to make up their own mind without listening to the hyper partisan hyperbole that comes out of our politicians. The Republicans and Democrats are both at fault for over politicizing everything and being simply concerned with acquiring more power for their own party. Very few concern themselves with interpreting, following, protecting, enforcing the constitution of the United States. This is the job of the 3 branches of government. If we as Americans can simply agree on that and have that as our binding principle we can debate the details. Until we get there however, power will continue to be the football without regard to the sidelines or end zones.
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    We insist we know how you waste our money.
    Like (11)
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    ALL House Spending Bills AKA the “House “Show Your Work Act.” I’d also would recommend and support the passage of a House Bill AKA the “House Show Your Work Act” which would require the House to make fiscal models, policy models, and data preparation routines that it uses in estimating the costs and other fiscal, social, or economic effects of legislation publicly available in a manner that allows them to be replicated for ALL its “Spending Bills” submitted for passage to,the Senate. SneakyPete.... 👍🏻👍🏻HouseSpendingBills👍🏻👍🏻. 6.6.19.....
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    This is simply an attempt by the GOP to continue attacking the independent CBO.
    Like (10)
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    More transparency can only be good. Sadly, I question my government’s motives, honesty, integrity. I’ve seen too much graft and self serving, especially in the past couple years, to just trust any of you.
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    Y E. S! CBO ACCOUNTABILITY in the ways the budget is modeled is a very good idea. Americans are waking up to the fact that “black box” hidden agendas & methods are robbing us of our Democracy. T. R. A. N. S. P. A. R. E. N. C. Y
    Like (9)
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    With a history of never getting their forecasts correct the CBO needs to be transparent.
    Like (8)
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    Should be under public scrutiny.
    Like (8)
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    Transparency, transparency, transparency.
    Like (7)
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    Absolutely these things should be public. In fact, more things need to be made public, as these career, criminal, and career criminal politicians need to be held accountable for all things they do and don’t do and should have oversight under intense scrutiny. They always say, “the American people want...” as if they know what the American people want. They vote the way they want to on things anyway regardless of what the “American people want.” Or they vote the way their lobbyists tell them. So short answer...ABSOLUTELY it should be open to the public.
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    This is a good idea. The “ordinary citizen could follow along and ask good questions.
    Like (6)
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    Yes, Congress works for taxpayers, this is information that forecast the cost to the American taxpayer there should always be transparency and how they arrived at the cost. Also again congress has to stop over spending and cut programs or allotment of money to each branch of government, NOW!
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    Yes, Our CBO must be open with their methods. They must use dynamic models. They must not be tied to Congress' absurd projections. They should be penalized when their projections do not match what happens. Just as a businessman either profits, or loses by stocking up, or downsizing, as needed. Deal with reality. Do not allow unrealistic promises.
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