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The CBO Report That Never Was

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It’s been widely reported the past couple days that the Congressional Budget Office did a report that showed the stimulus package wouldn’t have immediate effects.

Well, that has turned out to be false.

From Huff Post:

Reports of a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, showing that the vast majority of the money in the stimulus package won’t be spent until after 2010, have Democrats on the defensive and the GOP calling for a pullback in wasteful spending.

Funny thing is, there is no such report.

“We did not issue any report, any analysis or any study,” a CBO aide told the Huffington Post.

Rather, the nonpartisan CBO ran a small portion of an earlier version of the stimulus plan through a computer program that uses a standard formula to determine a score — how quickly money will be spent. The score only dealt with the part of the stimulus headed for the Appropriations Committee and left out the parts bound for the Ways and Means or Energy and Commerce Committee.

Because it dealt with just a part of the stimulus, it estimated the spending rate for only about $300 billion of the $825 billion plan. Significant changes have been made to the part of the bill the CBO looked at.

The CBO numbers were given to a small number of congressional Democrats and Republicans, but were not posted online because they’re not an official CBO product. (Media outlets, while reporting widely about the “report,” have declined to post it online. Here’s the whole thing.) Democratic aides say they are certain that the GOP leaked it to the Associated Press in order to undercut the spending portion of the stimulus.

This is obviously troubling because it means that somebody in the GOP knowingly spread a lie, but in the process they’re undermining the credibility of all of their colleagues.

How could they be so short sighted?

Still, the most important part of all of this is the following…

The White House followed up with a letter from Peter Orszag, head of the Office of Management and Budget. The CBO “analysis, however, did not assess the overall package,” wrote Orszag. “Our analysis indicates that at least 75 percent of the overall package (including its tax component and the other spending provisions that were not analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office) will be spent over the next year and a half.”

Long story short, the stimulus will have immediate effects.

More as it develops…