Wow. No telling what Newt Gingrich might say next. Yesterday he called the Congressional Budget Office a “reactionary socialist institution.”
The full quote, via CNN.com:
“The Congressional Budget Office is a reactionary socialist institution which does not believe in economic growth, does not believe in innovation and does not believe in data that it has not internally generated.”
I see a certain tension between “reactionary” and “socialist,” but don’t let that bother you.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a Republican and a former chief of the CBO, gave a cute reply to the Gingrich quote:
“I think if you parse that phrase carefully, he got one out of three right,” Holtz-Eakin said. “I do agree it is an institution. If you’re playing baseball, that’s a decent batting average.”
CBO, while not perfect, is the most trusted, least partisan agency that the federal government has to estimate what various proposals are going to cost. They are not big fans of “dynamic scoring,” under which, for example, tax cuts can be “projected” to pay for themselves by stimulating economic growth. I assume this is one of Gingrich’s chief complaints against CBO, since it takes a lot of the fun out of proposing tax cuts. Although as president it would not really be any of his business (since CBO is an arm of Congress), Gingrich said that he would seek to abolish the agency.
Meanwhile, Gingrich tossed off the “CBO-reactionary-socialist” slander during his talk on privatizing Social Security reform yesterday at a New Hampshire college. Since I wrote about it yesterday, I have scoured the coverage of the talk looking for further explanation of Gingrich’s previous suggestion that he would finance the transition to private accounts with the $2.7 trillion of government bonds in the Social Security Trust Fund. So far as I can find, the spend-the-trust-fund idea never came up.
And the plan seems to lack most of the details necessary to assess it. In general, it sounds a lot like the plan that President Bush barnstormed the country for in 2005.
But, at least according to Fox’s coverage of the talk, the plan would have a wonderful safety valve that enables young workers to invest their nest eggs however they like with no risk.
“You can put them in very conservative bonds only, you can put them in much more aggressive and have stock only, some mix of stocks and bonds, it will be your choice,” Gingrich said.
To avoid a disastrous fluctuation in the market wiping out accounts, under the plan those who opt into the system would be guaranteed the minimum Social Security payment.