Wash. Post asserted CBO "report" analyzed "the majority of money" in Dems' stimulus plan, but CBO document posted by Huffington Post indicates otherwise

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

The Washington Post asserted that "a report from the Congressional Budget Office ... said the majority of money in the Democratic [stimulus] plan would not get spent within the first year and a half." In fact, a document described by The Huffington Post as being the "whole" CBO " 'report' " accounts for only approximately $358 billion out of the "more than $850 billion" that the Post reported is included in the Democratic proposal, meaning that the CBO analysis could not possibly reach any conclusions about "the majority of money in the Democratic plan."

In a January 26 article, The Washington Post asserted regarding President Obama's stimulus plan: "[A] report from the Congressional Budget Office [CBO] ... said the majority of money in the Democratic plan would not get spent within the first year and a half." That assertion is false, according to a document posted on the Huffington Post website, which, according to a January 23 Huffington Post article, is the "whole" CBO " 'report.' " The CBO document provided by The Huffington Post accounts for approximately $358 billion out of the "more than $850 billion" that the Post reported is included in the Democratic proposal, meaning that the CBO analysis could not possibly reach any conclusions about "the majority of money in the Democratic plan," as the Post asserted.

The January 26 Post article further reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "pushed back against the [CBO] report yesterday, saying that the CBO analyzed only 40 percent of the bill," but did not explain that Pelosi's assertion that the CBO assessed less than half of the stimulus plan was true, based on the document obtained by The Huffington Post. The article also noted that Pelosi "pointed to a letter from Obama's budget director that promised that at least 75 percent of the money would be injected into the economy in the first 18 months," but did not mention that "Obama's budget director," Peter Orszag -- who is also the former director of the CBO -- stated in that same January 22 letter that the CBO "analysis ... did not assess the overall package," as Media Matters for America has noted.

In the January 23 article, The Huffington Post reported:

[T]he 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.

The Huffington Post article included a link to the CBO document in the following portion of the article: "Media outlets, while reporting widely about the 'report,' have declined to post it online. Here's the whole thing." The CBO scorecard is titled "ESTIMATED COST OF AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT OF 2009 AS PROVIDED ON THE APPROPRIATION COMMITTEE WEBSITE ON JANUARY 15, 2009," and notes that "[p]rovisions of this legislation that are being developed by other committees are not included in this table." The scorecard states that the proposals it analyzed provided $273,986,000,000 in total "[b]udget [a]uthority" for fiscal year 2009; $66,529,000,000 for fiscal year 2010; $4,147,000,000 for fiscal year 2011; $3,575,000,000 for fiscal year 2012; $9,852,000,000 for fiscal years 2013 to 2019; which adds up to a total of $358.089 billion.

From the January 26 Washington Post article:

Last week, Republicans seized on a report from the Congressional Budget Office that said the majority of money in the Democratic plan would not get spent within the first year and a half.

Pelosi pushed back against the report yesterday, saying that the CBO analyzed only 40 percent of the bill. And she pointed to a letter from Obama's budget director that promised that at least 75 percent of the money would be injected into the economy in the first 18 months.

"We're committed to that," she said.

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