If you don’t like the data, get rid of the analysts:
On Monday—the same day the president attacked political rivals in a speech to Boy Scouts and the U.S. Senate prepared to vote on a health care bill that no one had actually seen—Mark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus and representative of North Carolina’s Eleventh Congressional District, proposed his own means of undermining democratic norms.
His big idea: gut the Congressional Budget Office, the agency that has consistently projected that GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare would leave more than twenty million Americans without coverage. In an amendment introduced Monday, Meadows proposed slashing eighty-nine positions from the agency’s Budget Analysis Division, a $15 million cut that would effectively abolish the division.
While it may be doubtful this amendment will have any legs, his real motive for it may be even more ominous than the amendment itself: It sends a chilling message to those analysts that their future data and reports need to be more supportive of the majority’s policies, or else. These bullying tactics are rooted in the Tea Party movement itself, which relies on fear of retribution to get its way, instead of scholarly debate, which it simply isn’t qualified to engage in. And probably more than anyone else, Mark Meadows has capitalized on that formula, vaulting himself into a position of leadership of a caucus he created for that sole purpose. North Carolina in general, and the 11th District in particular, owes an apology to the rest of the nation for sending this petty tyrant to DC.