Robert D. Novak took Douglas Holtz-Eakin, director of the Congressional Budget Office, to task for an "economic worldview [that] is no help to George W. Bush's economics" [op-ed, Aug. 19]. Never mind that he was lecturing one of the premier public finance economists on economic theory or that he was suggesting the CBO's economic analysis should conform to Mr. Bush's theories.

The CBO reported the facts -- that three years of top-heavy tax cuts had benefited the rich more than the middle class. As is its custom, the CBO presented the data many ways, providing fodder for both supporters and critics of the president's policies. In short, the CBO was doing what it is supposed to do.

Mr. Novak complained that the CBO analysis is "static," meaning it doesn't show how tax cuts will turbocharge the economy. An earlier CBO study did look at the macro effects of the tax cuts and concluded that they are as likely to hurt as help the economy. Though lower tax rates have economic benefits, higher deficits drag the economy down.

Mr. Novak's unspoken complaint is that Mr. Holtz-Eakin, a Republican appointee, is taking seriously the CBO's independent, nonpartisan mandate. Similar complaints have been lodged against all of the best CBO directors.


Co-Director, Tax Policy Center