Boyle Opening Statement at Hearing on “Assessing the Role of the Congressional Budget Office”

Jan 31, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Pennsylvania Congressman Brendan F. Boyle, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, delivered opening remarks at a Budget Committee hearing on “Assessing the Role of the Congressional Budget Office.”


Ranking Member Boyle’s remarks as delivered:


Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank everyone for being here, including our guest. First, before I direct my comments to Mr. Swagel and talk about the Congressional Budget Office, first I just want to share great news that should make all of us happy here, and I know it will.


Headline from a publication not known to being friendly to this administration: U.S. Winning World Economic War. The first sentence: “The United States economy grew faster than any other large advanced economy last year, by a wide margin and is on track to do so again in 2024.” Almost every day, we are seeing headlines just like that and the economic data underlying it to support it. And that is all news that we can, as Americans, take great pride in. Now, to the express purpose of today's hearing, I want to thank you, Mr. Swagel, as I have done a number of times in private. I want to thank you individually, but also the 270 or so staffers who you represent, fine public servants who perform an incredibly important function and do so with diligence and professionalism.


I also want to thank the Chairman for the fact that we are taking time today to conduct oversight of the Congressional Budget Office, talk about things that are working well and also things that we can improve. I would, however, urge caution to any colleagues today who intend to raise questions about CBO's impartiality, transparency, or the accuracy of their projections writ large.


The reality is, and you can look over the last several decades, CBO at times has both under-projected and over-projected deficits, under-projected and over-projected revenues, and released projections that were politically inconvenient to both Democrats and Republicans. I personally know that I think when CBO releases a projection that I agree with, you guys are doing a fantastic job. And when you release one I disagree with, that damn CBO, what are they thinking? I have a feeling all 435 members of the House might find that rather familiar in what I just said.


It is impossible to 100 percent predict the future. The famous physicist Niels Bohr once said, “Predictions are hard to make, especially about the future.” And certainly if there is someone here who had a way to predict, for instance, an unprecedented global pandemic, or the Great Recession, well, I would love to speak to you before I get in my bet on this year's Super Bowl.


So, the reality is this, despite the challenges of making predictions, and despite not having a perfect record, time in and time out, CBO does high quality work. But again, I am open toward ways that we can improve the process and ultimately improve the end product. Toward that end, I'm incredibly proud that just last week, I introduced a bill, cosponsored by Chairman Arrington, that would help reduce the delays that CBO often suffers in receiving data that they need to support Congressional decision making.


And frankly, this has been a chronic problem, whether it's a Democratic administration or a Republican administration, and it's incumbent upon us in Congress to solve. Speaking of the role of Congress and not CBO, we're going to talk today about a quote “culture of fiscal responsibility”.


Let's be clear. It's not the role of the CBO to inculcate a fiscally responsible culture. That's our job as members of Congress. So let's not pass the blame or pass the buck onto the men and women of CBO for those instances in which this institution has failed. So with that I will pause here, give back the remaining 30 seconds of my time.


And I thank you again, Mr. Swagel and the men and women of the Congressional Budget Office.