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CBO: We Can't Score Obama's Budget Plan Because It's Just a Speech

12:35 PM, Jun 23, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, told the House Budget Committee this morning that his office was unable to estimate the long-term viability of the "budget framework" President Obama outlined in his April 13 budget speech.

"We don't estimate speeches," said Elmendorf. "We need much more specificity than was provided in that speech for us to do our analysis."

As Fred Barnes reported in April, Ryan's aides were puzzled by how Obama had come up with new figures showing $4 trillion in savings over 12 years.

Following the speech, an aide to Ryan contacted the budget office at the White House. The president had been vague about how he’d achieve his goals for cutting spending and reducing debt. So the Ryan staffer asked for specifics. Where did the numbers come from? What were the assumptions? What was the spending baseline? Could the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) calculate the cost of Obama’s plan?

He got no answers. The Ryan aide was referred to the president’s budget, released in February, a budget the speech seemed to supersede. For more information, he was told to contact the White House press office, which pointed him to a “fact sheet.” It was a press release with few facts.

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