Dynamic scoring: forward-thinking budgeting practices to grow our economy

By Representative Kevin Hern

Washington, November 16, 2019 | Miranda Dabney

There’s a lot to consider when looking at a piece of legislation. Good and thoughtful policy is important, but how do we pay for it? Many a great idea has met their doom in Congress because they can’t answer that question.

The federal budget is a living, breathing organism. It’s constantly changing and larger than you can wrap your head around.

Trillions of federal dollars – that’s 12 zeroes – are spent every year on things from building new ships for the navy to funding Small Business Administration loans to medical research to the salary of park rangers at Yosemite. Everything under federal control and every piece of legislation that comes out of Congress has to find a home somewhere in the budget.

I could write a book about what I’ve learned about putting together the federal budget since joining the House Budget Committee in January, but that’s a topic for another day.

When a bill is introduced in Congress, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzes the bill for its ultimate cost and gives it a score. This score lets us know if the proposed legislation adds to our already-astonishing deficit and if additional taxes will be necessary to offset that cost.

A truly great bill is more than simple policy. It has a place in the budget and a plan to offset the cost. Even better, it has a positive effect on the economy.

It’s important for me to know how a bill works into the federal budget, but that’s not the only economic impact a bill has. Our bills can affect job growth, GDP, labor supply, interest rates and more. This is incredibly important information for Members of Congress to understand.

Right now, that’s not how we measure legislation. In years past, macroeconomic impact analysis (also known as dynamic scoring) was used by the CBO to understand the ripple effect a bill might have on the economy. That was changed earlier this year. In the rules package passed by the House at the start of Pelosi’s speakership, dynamic scoring was removed and replaced with a flat score.

For the last 11 months, the CBO score we see on new legislation only tells us how the bill fits into the federal budget. This is certainly important to know – especially if a bill is going to grow our debt – but it’s not the full story.

The Pro-Growth Budgeting Act reinstates dynamic scoring to the CBO scoring process. This method of evaluating legislation gives Congress the complete picture of what a bill could do to the economy.

When I introduced the bill last month, I was overwhelmed with support for the bill. Groups like Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, and the Taxpayer Protection Alliance, among many others, are excited about the impact this legislation could have on the way we review new bills in Congress.

It’s easy to get stuck in a right-here-right-now mindset. The 2-year election cycle encourages quick solutions with immediate results to prove to your constituents that you’re accomplishing something. That method of thinking is shortsighted, ignoring the long-term effects of the decisions we make.

I want to write, support, and pass legislation that puts our economy in a good spot decades down the road. We can’t expect to get long-term results with short-term solutions.

Something many of my colleagues forget is that Congress has no money of our own. Every dollar we spend belongs to the taxpayers. With that in mind, it’s our duty to spend your tax dollars wisely. That means every dollar spent must be in service to this country; even more, it must propel our economy forward and make a positive, lasting impact on our country.

Without looking at the protracted results that these bills have on our economy, we cannot make forward-thinking decisions.