Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued its “score” (how much a bill will cost or earn for the U.S. Treasury) for S.911(aka The Rockefeller/Hutchison spectrum bill). CBO estimated that all spectrum auctions proposed in the bill — incentive auctions, new federal spectrum, and generally extending the FCC’s spectrum authority — would net $24.5 billion. After expenses, including reallocating the D Block to public safety, the bill ended up netting only $6 billion for deficit reduction, disappointing supporters who had promised $10 billion in deficit reduction. More importantly than the revenue, however, the CBO explanation of the score highlighted the following for anyone who actually read more than the bottom line:
- We have no way to predict what an incentive auction will actually make, and have a lot of doubt this will work;
- We don’t believe you can get more good spectrum (the kind that fetches billions of dollars) out of the federal government;
- Trying to do spectrum policy right is very expensive.
For various reasons, however, CBO doesn’t come right out and say this in the same bold way I just did above. Instead, they drop little dollops of wisdom in the text, which requires a certain amount of decoding from Washington Weasel speak. Happily, I brought my Weasel Word Decoder (don’t come to Washington without one!).
CBO score decoded below . . . .