Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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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 in Politics Law, & Economics • Permalink

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