Biased and Short-term Budgets and Forecasts
Why? Leaders support a paucity of objective, understandable, and consistent cost estimates, thus making it difficult to see the long-range financial impact of major programs, particularly the entitlement plans.
Why do the leaders support unrealistic cost estimates?
Congress certainly has the resources to produce realistic and useful figures, so the leadership must not want accurate and clear presentations. For example, bills are said to cost a certain amount of money, but the number of years covered by such pronouncements varies constantly and often is not clearly stated. Sometimes, savings spread over ten years are balanced against expenditures to occur in the first year. Another example is the use of off-budget accounting like the Social Security trust fund which has no real money in it – just IOU’s from the government to itself. Congress also accounted for the cost of the Iraq war outside the Defense budget. Such chicanery is deliberate, and it keeps Congress and the public from knowing the facts about spending. Careerism, safe seats, and short-term thinking are causes of Congress having leaders who use such confusing cost forecasts.
Why? Members don’t insist on objective costing of legislation because it might force them into a vote that would be unpopular in a coming election.
Why do members vote on bills with skewed financial data?