Seeing Everything Through the Deficit Lens

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In this Jan. 10, 2017, photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., accompanied by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The Congressional Budget Office is a nonpartisan agency responsible for assessing -- or "scoring" -- bills for their effect on the federal deficit. This week, Republicans are questioning the agency's integrity because the CBO has scored the GOP healthcare proposal and estimated that 24 million Americans would lose insurance. But sometimes the script is flipped and Democrats attack the CBO's credibility.

Zachary Karabell says the problem is much worse than the agency's status as a political football. Because the scoring is so central to a bill's passage, it means that in many cases, the deficit becomes more important than the bill's actual goals. Karabell is the author of The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World. He talks to Brooke about how the CBO's prominence has hampered Congress' imagination and the role of government in our lives. He recently wrote about the agency for Politico


Accentuate The Positive (Instrumental) by Syd Dale