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Conservatives Prepare to Abandon Newfound Love for CBO

By Matthew Yglesias

"Conservatives Prepare to Abandon Newfound Love for CBO"

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The Congressional Budget Office produces a lot of sober-minded, sensible, reality-based policy analysis. Consequently, 99 days out of a 100 conservatives ignore what it says. For the past week, however, there’s been a CBO report that says liberal stimulus plans are likely to be ineffective, so suddenly the right-wing’s decided it loves the CBO. And with the minor problem that the report they’ve been touting doesn’t exist, it’s been a charming love affair. But late yesterday out came the real CBO analysis largely supporting the efficacy of the recovery plan. And now there’s this:

The nation’s current recession is likely to be the longest since World War II, and by some measures could be the worst since the Great Depression, a new Congressional Budget Office forecast said Tuesday.

Without a major economic stimulus plan, “the shortfall in the nation’s output relative to its potential would be the largest — in terms of both length and depth — since the Depression of the 1930s,” said new CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf in testimony prepared for the House Budget Committee.

The analysis is sure to add important momentum to the effort to enact an $825 billion stimulus by mid-February.

Last week, referring to the non-existent report, David Brooks wrote that Obama’s “going to have to prove the hard way that he meant what he said about being pragmatic and evidence-based. That means he won’t sweep a C.B.O. study under the rug simply because the findings are inconvenient.” My guess is that few conservative legislators and no conservative New York Times columnists will wind up meeting the Brooks Test in this regard.

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