US federal budget agency under fire from Trump administration over health care | News | DW | 13.03.2017
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US federal budget agency under fire from Trump administration over health care

US President Donald Trump's aides have made an unusual attack on the credibility of the non-partisan agency that is to analyze the costs of replacing Obamacare. In the past, the CBO has been considered a neutral arbiter.

Republican lawmakers and aides to US President Donald Trump have dismissed an upcoming report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) due out this week.

The CBO report is expected to show that more Americans would be uninsured under the Republican plan to upend former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Obamacare has been repeatedly criticized by Trump who called it a "disaster" during his campaign and vowed to replace it.

Trump's cabinet took to Sunday political talk shows to praise the Affordable Care Act's replacement in its current form, and cast doubt on the credibility of the non-partisan CBO. 

"I love the folks at the CBO, they work really hard, they do, but sometimes we ask them to do stuff they're not capable of doing, and estimating the impact of a bill of this size probably isn't the – isn't the best use of their time," White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on ABC's "This Week."

Gary Cohn, director of the White House National Economic Council, told "Fox News Sunday" that "they've said that many more people will be insured than are actually insured. But when we get the CBO score, we'll deal with that."

The CBO is a federal agency set up in 1974 within the legislative branch. Its mandate is to provide Congress with objective, nonpartisan and timely analysis to aid in economic and budgetary decisions on a wide array of programs covered by the federal budget. 

Unusual dismissal

The criticism of the CBO from the Trump administration is unusual. Previous administrations, as well as many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, consider the CBO as a neutral arbiter.

Not all in Congress, even Republicans, are on board with the state of the current healthcare plan. Republican representative Jim Jordan from Ohio told "Fox News Sunday," "I'm not for this plan and I think there's a lot of opposition to this plan in the House and Senate."

Mulvaney added on "This Week" that Trump was open to adapting new policies to the healthcare plan. "This is the framework," Mulvaney said, referring to the current state of the plan. "This is the bill the president has looked at and said yes, this is what will work."

kbd/jm (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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