Will CBO go the way of OTA? The push to remove non-partisan expertise from Congress

In an op-ed published on Who.What.Why., Celia Wexler points out a disturbing similarity between the effort to defeat the work of the Congressional Budget Office and a successful effort in 1995 to kill the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA):

…in 1995, another nonpartisan agency created to help Congress, bit the dust when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich found its fact-based work not worth even its tiny budget. Republicans and Democrats banded together to try to save the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), formed to deliver advice to Congress on emerging scientific and technical issues. But their efforts failed.

The efforts to defend CBO succeeded – this time. As Wexler points out, Rep. Mark Meadows may have been surprised by the outrage his attack on CBO provoked.

Every living former CBO director, both Republican and Democratic, wrote a letter to congressional leaders defending the agency in no uncertain terms, pointing out its 42-year history of providing nonpartisan budget estimates to Congress.

Nonprofit advocates also weighed in. The Project on Government Oversight, which trains congressional staff to do more effective oversight, predicted that gutting CBO “would send a chilling message to all other independent offices, such as the Congressional Research Service or the Government Accountability Office.” R Street, a Republican-leaning free-market advocate, teamed up with Demand Progress, a progressive policy advocate, to urge Congress to fully fund the agency.

In the end, the pressure worked. The House defeated these attempts to gut the CBO. For now.

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