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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Wanted: Nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office Director

The New York Times talks about the qualities needed in the replacement for Douglas Holtz-Eakin, director of the Congressional Budget Office:

The Right Stuff, editorial, NY Times: As director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Holtz-Eakin has been Congress's top economist, handpicked by the Republican leadership. Recently, he had some advice for lawmakers - mostly Republicans - who insist that more tax cuts will foster economic growth and raise tax revenue: "Don't even think about it." ... "You can't grow yourself out of this problem," said Mr. Holtz-Eakin. "It's just too big." That's startlingly straight talk, given that Republicans are determined to pass tens of billions in unpaid-for tax cuts come January. ... Mr. Holtz-Eakin ... has delivered nonpartisan, data-driven research on some of the most controversial issues. Often, what Mr. Holtz-Eakin said wasn't what his bosses wanted to hear. He went on record in 2003 saying that President Bush's tax and spending plans would do little or nothing for long-term economic growth. One report issued under his leadership showed that Mr. Bush's tax cuts heavily favored the wealthiest Americans. Another debunked the politically potent but false contention that the estate tax hurts farmers. By going where the facts and figures led, Mr. Holtz-Eakin also protected his agency, which may be the last bastion of neutral government analysis in Washington. To succeed him, Congressional leaders need a top economist who has a reputation to protect and is a superb number cruncher, fluent communicator of complex issues and good manager.

And willing to fiercely defend, as Holtz-Eakin has, the independence and neutrality of the Congressional Budget Office against political pressure. Here's a little more from the CBO web site:

...The Appointment of the Director: The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate jointly appoint the CBO Director, after considering recommendations from the two budget committees. The term of office is four years, with no limit on the number of terms a Director may serve. Either House of Congress, however, may remove the Director by resolution. At the expiration of a term of office, the person serving as Director may continue in the position until a successor is appointed. CBO has had six Directors since its inception in 1975. Douglas Holtz-Eakin is the current Director; his term of office ends in January 2007. He was preceded by Dan L. Crippen, June E. O'Neill, Robert D. Reischauer, Rudolph G. Penner, and Alice M. Rivlin...

CBO's Staff:The Director appoints all CBO staff, including the Deputy Director, and all appointments are based solely on professional competence, without regard to political affiliation. ... CBO is composed primarily of economists and public policy analysts. About 70 percent of its professional staff hold advanced degrees in either economics or public policy...

    Posted by on Tuesday, December 27, 2005 at 01:36 AM in Budget Deficit, Economics, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (1)

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