In December 2021, Senator Joe Manchin appeared on Fox News to announce that he would not vote for Joe Biden’s signature climate plan, Build Back Better. The reason he cited? A score given by the Congressional Budget Office.

The Congressional Budget Office – or CBO for short – is the most important government agency you’ve never heard of. It acts as a budget referee, giving legislation a score on how it will impact the economy and the federal budget. Senator Chuck Grassley once called the CBO “God” on Capitol Hill. Its scores determine which legislation passes and which legislation dies. 

But there’s one big catch. The CBO is systematically leaving out the impacts of climate change and carbon pollution on the economy – and stacking the deck against climate legislation. Lawmakers have the power to change it. Will they?


  • Dr. Mark Paul is an assistant professor of economics and environmental studies at New College of Florida. You can read his article about the CBO in Noema

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