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Trump’s Authority Problem and the Congressional Budget Office

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wake Forest chapter.


Until recently, the Congressional Budget Office was viewed by much of the American public as just another boring but necessary part of the federal bureaucracy. The CBO is a nonpartisan federal agency within the legislative branch of the federal government that analyzes budgetary and economic issues in support of the Congressional process.

Few political commentators could have predicted that it would receive the amount of press that it has recently. On March 1, the CBO released an estimate that the American Health Care Act, the GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 24 million before 2026 compared to the current Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. This change would stem from changes in Medicaid as some states would discontinue their expansion of eligibility, some states that would have expanded eligibility in the future would choose not to do so, and per-enrollee spending in the program would be capped. In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under the current law.

This estimate infuriated some Republicans, including those in the White House. Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, said that the “CBO coverage estimates are consistently wrong and more importantly did not take into consideration the comprehensive nature of the three-pronged plan to repeal and replace Obamacare with the American Health Care Act.” 

Spicer is correct in saying that there were some problems with the accounting of Obamacare. One way the CBO had trouble predicting was in the number of newly insured who would get their coverage by purchasing private insurance set up by law through new exchanges. Only half of the predicted 23 million ended up following that plan. On the other hand, the CBO was too low in its estimate of the number who would gain coverage through the expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal program for low-income people and children. CBO estimated 10 million would be added to the Medicaid rolls by 2016, even with many states refusing to expand eligibility. But that was too low. As of the first quarter of 2016, 14.4 million people had enrolled in Medicaid because of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of the program.

To a large extent, the CBO’s mistake was in estimating where the uninsured would get covered, not how many of them would gain coverage. Also, the people who scored Obamacare in the CBO are gone and the new director is Keith Hall, a republican that was selected by Tom Price, Trump’s Secretary for Health and Human Services. Finally, it was impossible for the CBO to estimate parts II and III of the AHCA because they have not been introduced to Congress nor have their specific details been released to the public.

The Trump Administration’s reaction to the CBO announcement is just another piece in an overarching theme of delegitimizing parts of the government that do not agree with Trump. Whether it’s the CIA, FBI, Federal Judges, and now, the CBO, Trump has a problem with authority figures telling him that he is wrong. Even if Trump’s administration was correct in their arguments with the bureaucracy, it will be a long four years if the President of the United States decides to attack every part of our democracy that does their job, especially if the outcomes disagree with Trump.


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Photo courtesy of: http://a.abcnews.com/images/Politics/AP-paul-ryan-01-as-170308_31x13_160…

Wake Forest University sophomore from Macon, GA who loves corgis, Diet Coke, and politics.
Hailing from Chicago, this Midwesterner turned Southern Belle is the Editor-in-Chief of Wake Forest University's chapter. When she isn't journaling for fun in her free time, she is obsessed with running around campus in giant sunglasses, wearing gold glitter eyeliner, and munching on trail mix. She's still struggling on saying "y'all" and not "guys" and has yet to try Cookout's legendary milkshakes. Follow her on twitter @Hmonyek!