A 'Friends' Reunion Would Result In 24/7 Coverage. This One Should Too.

If it were a '90s television show, you probably would have heard about it.

If a high-profile reunion happens in the United States, there's usually wall-to-wall press coverage.


When cast of Friends got together, it was on national television. When the cast of Full House reunited, they went on Jimmy Kimmel Live. The casts of Back to the Future and Wonder Years got similar late-night treatment. Even reunions of professional sports teams can turn into mini-documentaries.

But when a group of high-profile former government officials got together (at least on paper), all former directors of one of the United States' most important offices, the news hardly made a blip on television and in the press. While that lack of coverage may not be surprising, it's worth taking seriously. 

In case you missed it (which you probably did), on Thursday, a group of eight former directors of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) penned a letter to Nancy Pelosi, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer — the four most prominent leaders of Congress. 

And, just like it would be with a Friends reunion, it is incredible to see so many high-profile people come together again for a single purpose.

An excerpt from the letter.  medium.com

"Over the past 42 years CBO has been firmly committed to providing nonpartisan and high-quality analysis — and that commitment remains as strong and effective today as it has been in the past," the letter reads. "Because CBO works for the Congress, and only the Congress, the agency's analysis addresses the unique needs of legislators."

While the CBO's work may be dry and boring to most Americans, it's also vital to making sure our government functions. The CBO can provide the most accurate estimates about how many people a health insurance bill will insure, how many jobs a tax-cutting bill will create, how much money the cutting of a government agency may save. Without the CBO, the government — already criticized by millions of Americans for being inefficient — would be largely shooting blind when it drafted new laws.

The incredibly important letter comes at a time when the CBO has been withstanding unprecedented attacks for its analysis. After giving unfavorable scores to a Senate health care bill, the typically universally accepted numbers from the CBO were declared "fake news" by some in the White House and Congress. But the letter, which was published on Medium, was a reminder that the CBO is a nonpartisan agency whose work is far more reliable than those of other government analytic teams, like the Health and Human Services department, which is made up of a staff chosen by the White House.

Former CBO directors spanning seven presidencies signed the letter, going back all the way to President Gerald Ford's administration.

"We write to express our strong objection to recent attacks on the integrity and professionalism of the agency and on the agency's role in the legislative process," the ex-directors — who have served Republican and Democratic administrations — wrote. "We urge you to maintain and respect the Congress's decades-long reliance on CBO's estimates in developing and scoring bills."

The work of this important office — and a letter signed by a group of its esteemed directors — won't be celebrated by Americans. It won't be talked about on late-night television or covered in the prime time spot on news channels, and it certainly won't be met with the cheers of millions of fans.

Nevertheless, I'd like to say thank you. Thank you to the directors, employees and supporters of the CBO. Thank you for bringing balanced analysis in a time of great partisanship. Thank you for serving the public in a time when some public servants are more interested in their television ratings. Thank you for giving our sometimes dysfunctional Congress the numbers and analysis they need to govern. 

Thank you for helping make the United States a better functioning, more democratic and more efficient country.

Hopefully, your work and your service will be treasured for generations to come.

Cover photo: Rob Crandall / Shutterstock


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