Forecasting Discretionary Spending by the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC)

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is every political budget analyst’s favorite punching bag.  Truth be told, they have an impossible job.  At its core, CBO is responsible for forecasting spending by the Federal government.[1]  In some cases, this involves forecasting macroeconomic variables and the resulting Federal spending.  For example, CBO forecasts marketing year average prices for commodities covered by the farm bill and the resulting Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments.  In other cases, CBO looks into its crystal ball to estimate spending that Executive Branch agencies will undertake using discretionary authority granted to them by Congress.  For example, Section 5 of the CCC Charter Act vests USDA with eight categories of specific powers ranging from supporting the prices of agricultural commodities to increasing the domestic consumption of agricultural commodities.  While some of these authorities are used to carry out programs explicitly authorized by Congress (e.g., carrying out conservation or environmental programs authorized by law), the authority has been used to deliver a number of new programs at the discretion of the Secretary. CBO’s efforts to forecast spending under the latter is the focus of this article. [READ MORE]

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