EDITORIAL: The GOP war on facts

York Dispatch

Republicans in Washington seem to be fighting a war on facts.

One of the latest skirmishes was led by Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, who co-sponsored an attempt to defund the Congressional Budget Office.

The nonpartisan CBO has come under fire recently after its analysis of the various health care bills going through Congress showed millions of Americans would be left uninsured by the proposals. 

The mission of the CBO is to provide lawmakers with an unbiased look at what would happen if proposals pass through as written. 

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, talks about having a "meaningful Memorial Day" during the annual York County Memorial Day at Veterans Memorial Park, Sunday, May 29, 2017.  John A. Pavoncello photo


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To those of us who like facts, the CBO is a good thing. Congress needs to know how its laws will affect constituents across the country, and that knowledge needs to come without an ideological bent. 

But Perry and his fellow members of the Freedom Caucus didn't see it that way. 

The amendment would have eliminated the CBO's Budget Analysis Division, which has 89 staffers and a total of $15 million in salaries, according to the amendments.

The proposal recommended that the CBO director should carry out its budget analysis duties by facilitating and compiling scoring data from the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institute and Urban Institute, which are all private D.C.-based think tanks.

That amendment didn't pass, which means that for now Congress will continue to see CBO analysis of pending legislation. Perry was disappointed.

"The fiscal analysis provided by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has been consistently incorrect and has had numerous detrimental policy implications, not just on health care, but on a variety of policies over the years," Perry said in a statement. The CBO has revised its estimates on the cost of the Affordable Care Act several times over the years.

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, slammed the amendment, according to The Washington Post.

“The CBO is a long-respected institution whose rigorous analysis and reports are critical resources for Congress as we consider legislation that affects the lives of the American people,” he said. “These attacks should be beneath Congress. They need to stop.”

Until recently, Perry seemed to acknowledge the role of the CBO. He quoted CBO figures in news releases on deficit spending in 2014 and the Export-Import Bank in 2015.

But Republicans in general seem to be turning against the agencies that are tasked with providing facts to lawmakers and to the public in general.

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At the Environmental Protection Agency, top official Elizabeth "Betsy" Southerland ended  her 30-year career last week with a scathing letter, saying  "the environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth," according to The Hill She said EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has eliminated dozens of regulations designed to protect the environment, and she specified that, despite the claims of the administration, there is no war on coal and no economic crisis caused by environmental regulation, and that climate change is real and is caused by humans.

According to Vanity Fair, the Department of Energy is still waiting for new political appointees to sit down with long-time employees and really delve into what the department does. Mostly, it oversees the country's nuclear arsenal and nuclear waste. But in 2011, when Energy Secretary Rick Perry was running for president, he suggested getting rid of the department.

A draft of a report on climate change from 13 federal agencies, completed this year and part of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years, was leaked to the New York Times after the scientists who worked on it were concerned that the Trump administration would suppress it. The report states that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change now, directly contradicting statements by President Donald Trump and members of his Cabinet.

And those are just the highlights of the past few weeks. 

The bottom line seems to be that the GOP isn't really interested in facts or science. Willful ignorance seems to be the order of the day: Let's not ask the tough questions, then there won't be any problems, right?

Wrong. We as a country need to face the true facts and see the potential for harm from new policies and laws. 

The truth will eventually win the war. Republicans need to stop the battles now before more damage is done.