I am pleased to start today as the Director of the Congressional Budget Office. I am honored to join the team at CBO.
I have long been an admirer of the agency’s work. While working in academia for the past 10 years and, before that, in positions at the Treasury Department, the Council of Economic Advisers, the International Monetary Fund, and the Federal Reserve, I relied on CBO’s high-quality analysis for information about the U.S. fiscal situation, the economic outlook, the long-term budget, the financial status of Social Security, the impact of proposed changes to our health insurance system, the effects of labor market policies and of proposals to address the challenge of climate change, and much more.
Indeed, over my entire career I have read CBO’s cost estimates and reports because they are interesting and important. Just over the past three months—including before I knew that I would become Director—I turned to CBO’s publications for answers to such questions as:
- How is household income distributed in the United States, and how do taxes and transfers impact inequality?
- How much would it cost to replace the U.S. Army’s aviation fleet?
- How would allowing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to retain more capital affect the budget and the housing market?
CBO is able to provide authoritative analysis, including responsive and informative estimates of the costs of proposed legislation, because of the dedicated work of the people employed here. The agency’s analysts use their deep expertise to develop cost estimates and reports. Their analytical work is made possible, in turn, by a talented group of colleagues who develop and maintain the agency’s information technology systems and carry out essential functions in human resources, accounting, and more.
I thank Keith Hall for his leadership at CBO over the past four years. Keith was the ninth in a distinguished line of directors who have ensured that the agency provides nonpartisan information to support the budget process and to help the Congress make effective budget and economic policy. Going forward, we will continue in that mission, knowing that our work is vital for the prosperity and security of the United States and for the well-being of Americans.
The late founding Director of CBO, Alice Rivlin, set both the standard and the tone for the organization. In a memo to the staff on January 5, 1976, at the start of CBO’s first full year of operation, she wrote: “CBO must be, and must be perceived to be, an objective, non-partisan, professional organization in the service of the Congress... Our work and our publications must always be balanced, thorough and free of any partisan tinge.”
We will continue to meet that standard, working together to provide objective, impartial analyses in support of the Congress and on behalf of the American people.
Phillip L. Swagel is CBO’s Director.