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Democrats Call on GOP to Keep CBO's Elmendorf

Schumer warned Republicans against "any effort to politicize" the Congressional Budget Office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer and five other Senate Democrats raised concerns in a letter Friday that Republican leaders will replace the current Congressional Budget Office director as part of an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  

“We strongly object to any effort to politicize this important office,” the letter said. “Appointing a new CBO Director on the basis of ideology would fundamentally compromise the integrity of an institution that has served as a trusted scorekeeper.” The Democrats also called for current director Doug Elmendorf to be allowed to stay on.  

“Director Elmendorf’s record and the importance of continuity in such a critical position are compelling reasons why he should remain in the position, and we hope very much that you will reach that conclusion,” the letter said.  

The letter was addressed to incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, incoming Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga.  

Signatories of the letter included Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who is chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Center, and DPCC vice chairman Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.  

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is DPCC strategic policy adviser, and Sen. Mark Warner, who is DPCC policy development adviser, also signed on to the letter. Both were added to the Senate Democratic leadership ranks in reaction to the loss of the majority in the 2014-midterm elections.  

With control of both chambers, Republicans are entitled to pick a new CBO director. The House speaker and the Senate president pro tempore jointly appoint the CBO director after considering recommendations from the House and Senate budget committees.  

Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., who will be ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, also signed on to the letter, as did Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who leads the Democrats ACA Works Campaign.  

The letter comes after reports that Republicans will seek to replace Elmendorf because of the CBO’s favorable cost cutting outlook for the ACA as well as a desire by Republicans to install a director that uses dynamic scoring, which counts the economic activity created by policy changes, such as tax cuts.  

“A CBO Director should not be required to revise the score of the Affordable Care Act in order to please partisan interests,” the letter said. “We are also extremely concerned about the possible appointment of a new CBO Director who would use ‘dynamic scoring’ to hide the true costs of tax cuts or make critical government lending programs for students, veterans, small businesses, and others appear more costly than they actually are.”  

Signed into law in 2010, the ACA, also known as Obamacare, is President Barack Obama's signature domestic legislative accomplishment.  

Republicans have pledged to try to repeal the law since its enactment and Democrats see efforts to replace Elmendorf as the latest iteration of the GOP’s anti-ACA campaign.  

"The CBO's commitment to fair, impartial budget analysis has enabled both Democrat and Republican Congresses to give the American people a full and realistic accounting of their actions," the letter said. " We hope that the new Republican leadership will continue the tradition of keeping the CBO as a true non-partisan referee‎."  

   

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