Right Thinking From The Left Coast
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it - Henry David Thoreau

You Will Be A Team Player

Boy, it’s got to suck to be at 1600 Pennsylvania these days.  They’ve got the One in office.  They have both houses of Congress.  They have a Dream Team of a cabinet.  They have the biggest fiscal crisis in 75 years.  And they still can’t get what they want, at least partially because all these stupid sexy facts and objective analyses keep ripping their glorious proposals to shreds.  What to do about it?  Shoot the messenger:

The White House went to war with the Congressional Budget Office after Friday’s announcement that the proposed changes to Barack Obama’s health-care plan to realize big cost savings would only recover $2 billion over 10 years, at best — about 0.2% of ObamaCare’s lowest projected cost.  Budget director Peter Orszag published a statement yesterday that accused the CBO of essentially lying in its analysis.

This is highly unusual.  The CBO and OMB do not criticize each other.  They can have differences of opinion, but each respects the independence of the other.  Now you combine this with Obama’s unusual meeting with the head of the CBO last week and you get a picture of someone crossing Constitutional boundaries to try to intimidate ... not even his opponents ... to intimidate his accountants.

It’s not an isolated incident.  Last week, Neil Barofsky, the man overseeing TARP complained about the lack of transparency and noted the potential liability of $24 trillion.  Take it away, Greenwald:

Most significant of all, and obviously due to Barofsky’s truly independent oversight efforts, the Obama administration is now attempting to induce the Justice Department to issue a ruling that Barofsky’s office is not independent at all—but rather, is subject to, and under the supervision of, the authority of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.  By design, such a ruling would completely gut Barofsky’s ability to compel transparency and exercise real oversight over how Treasury is administering TARP, since it would make him subordinate to one of the very officials whose actions Congress wanted him to oversee:  the Treasury Secretary’s.  Barofsky has, quite rightly, protested the administration’s efforts to destroy his independence, and has done so with increasing assertiveness as the administration’s war on his oversight activities has increased.  Why would an administration vowing a New Era of Transparency wage war on a watchdog whose only mission is to ensure transparency and accountability in these massive financial programs?

When Obama was first elected, I held out some hope that his Administration wouldn’t be a complete clusterfuck on the domestic side.  The reason I did was because of Obama’s emphasis on transparency and his record, as a senator, of showing an interest in the opinions of his opponents.  He’d sponsored numerous bills increasing government transparency; he had appointed conservative economists like Austin Goolsbee to his staff; many conservative U-Chicago economists talked about his intellectual curiosity as did conservative legal analysts.  I knew he was going to be liberal but at least I could hope he might not be completely closed-minded.

But now he’s discovered that he can’t do everything he wants because of a wave of “change”.  Now he’s discovered that not only do his opponents have opinions, they’ll voice them.  Now he’s discovered that the government is filled with checks and balances—agencies specifically designed to limit his power and counter his statements.  This can not be tolerated.  Transparency is all find and good when it nails corrupt Republicans.  But when it calls the Democrats out for pulling budget numbers out of their asses and having zero accountability for trillions of dollars in spending ... well, it’s time for a little trip to Principal Obama’s office.  Cut yourself a switch before you come in.

Update: This is not the first time Orszag has shown a contempt for the process of government.  It was Orszag, you remember, who said the Democrats should use the reconciliation process to bypass the filibuster.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/26/09 at 01:18 PM (Discuss this in the forums)


Posted by on 07/26/09 at 03:15 PM from United States

The biggest problem Obama has is that he has never stuck it out in a job long enough to feel any pressure.  He’s jumped from one job to the next every couple of years, barely getting his feet wet.  And for many of those years, he has had a throng of supporters telling him how awsome he is. 

Now he has to run things and doesn’t have a clue how to do so because he has never run anything in his life.

Posted by on 07/26/09 at 06:25 PM from Germany

This really is pretty damn huge.  Orszag was the CBO director from 2007-2008, as I recall, and he’s basically telling his successor to sit down and shut the fuck up.

Additionally, from what I have read, the CBO director is appointed by the Speaker of the House and president pro tempore.  If this is accurate, man, isn’t it ironic that Mafia Bimbo McBotoxface appointed the guy who’s cock-blocking her agenda at every turn?

This is something that cannot end well at all.  The Democrats are in a real pickle--they ran on a platform of government transparency, and when they were criticized for not providing it, they started in with the Chicago-style intimidation tactics.  Did Bush ever do any shit like this?  Bring in the CBO director for a “talking-to”?

He’s jumped from one job to the next every couple of years, barely getting his feet wet.  And for many of those years, he has had a throng of supporters telling him how awsome he is.

Precisely.  This goes back to what I was saying about Obama earlier--he’s the Paris Hilton of presidents.  He’s famous for being famous, the perfect candidate for a generation of dimwits raised by MTV.  The media turned him into a celebrity in 2004 because he looked nice and read well off of a teleprompter, and really started pumping him up after he declared his candidacy because they knew he would have more appeal than the less-divisive Hillary.

But no one ever bothered to ask if he was actually qualified for the position.  Actually, that’s not true, plenty of conservatives and even progressives asked it (including Obama’s own Secretary of State and Vice President), but those were dismissed as the racist arguments of people afraid of the guy with the dark skin and the funny name.  Now we’re seeing in real time what happens when you make a private into a general, and it’s not exactly pretty.

Posted by on 07/26/09 at 06:26 PM from Germany

they knew he would have more appeal than the less-divisive Hillary.

Oops, make that MORE divisive.

Posted by on 07/27/09 at 10:48 AM from United States

Numbers are racist.  That’s why blacks tend to do less well on standardized tests and why these numbers are opposed to obamas plan. 

We need to come up with a new math, a less racist and more inclusive way of adding 2 + 2 to get, well whatever number works best for the downtrodden minorities in this country.

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