Friday, March 19, 2010

On the "CBO score" 

Last night, I read the CBO's letter to Nancy Pelosi scoring the latest health care "reform" bill (available here), and admit that I was frustrated by the thin description of the assumptions in the modeling. Knowing the CBO, all that stuff is available somewhere, so I defer to expert observers. My interpretation of the CBO's many qualifications, though, is that its estimates amount to assumptions piled on assumptions. Megan McArdle seems to agree with me. Intellectual honesty compels me also to link to Ezra Klein, who mounts a sturdy defense against most criticisms from the right.

The problem is that the output of the CBO's model has achieved, through deliberate Democratic strategy, a certain talismanic significance for the press. This is understandable, since few reporters demonstrate any meaningful grasp of numbers, economics, or the vagaries of modeling (hence their unquestioning faith in climate models, which was broken only by the CRU email "scandal"), but unfortunate because it obscures the two questions we ought to be asking: (1) Does this version of health care "reform" lead to a better society, or not, and (2) do you believe that future Congresses, regardless of the party in power, will have the courage to sustain those promised cost-savings and tax increases? My answers are "not" and "no," respectively, but if you are a liberal you obviously believe differently.


By Anonymous davod, at Fri Mar 19, 04:00:00 PM:

Regardless of the effect on the Federal deficit, someone should be shouting from the rooftops:

"a reduction in the deficit does not mean you are better off. It can mean the government is taxing you, your employer, and goods and services more, or they stop giving you the services. It can also mean the state governments are being forced to do more."


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Mar 19, 04:01:00 PM:

Ezra Klein is an intellectual lightweight. I've read him a few times and find he reminds me of a college student - zealous, not as clever as he thinks he is, and badly lacking in experience. On the health care issue he dodges the precedent of so much failure in similar plans to focus on either how much suffering he thinks there is in the world or how wonderful utopia would be.

I don't understand why you give him as much regard as you do.  

By Anonymous Mad as Hell, at Fri Mar 19, 04:37:00 PM:

When else have we been told to defer to the judgment of experts and their sophisticated models, when the conclusions they draw defy rational common sense?  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Fri Mar 19, 08:50:00 PM:

Gee, I would certainly join Ms. Pelosi in her joy over the CBO report if:

1. There was a single similar plan anywhere in the world that was not bankrupting it's government.

2. 45% of primary care MD's were not threatening to go Galt in the next two years.

3. There was ANY government entitlement program in existence that did not initially predict savings and eventually end up on FIRE!!

This is like watching a car accident!  

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