Tag: Office of Management and Budget

Congressional Game of Chicken: Recess Appointment A Dilemma

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

President Obama’s recent exercise of his constitutional authority to make recess appointments to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and filling vacancies the National Labor Relations Board has created some dilemmas for himself and congressional Republicans. Republicans, of course, will continue to block confirmation of any Presidential appointee but are split as to how to address President Obama’s dismissal of the sham “pro forma” sessions and his four recess appointments.

With the appointment of Jack Lew as Chief of Staff, there is now a vacancy to head the Office of Budget and Management but the bigger issue may be the vacancy for a new director to the Federal Housing Finance Administration. That institution has been without a confirmed director for over two years, since David Lockhart left. The president is being pressured by the House Congressional Delegation from California to replace the Republican acting director of the FHFA, Ed DeMarco, who they say has been obstructing efforts to stem the housing market collapse and help keep owners in their homes. David Dayen at FDL News Desk reports that he is of two minds on DeMarco:

(DeMarco) has interpreted his mandate very narrowly. It’s a bad thing when he refuses to engage in principal reductions for troubled borrowers, even though that would make more money for Fannie and Freddie in the long run, because he doesn’t want to take the short-term financing hit. But it’s a good thing when he sues 17 banks over misrepresentations of the mortgages in the securities they sold to Fannie and Freddie, with the hope of forcing repurchases of those mortgage pools.

There have been signs that DeMarco is warming to a more activist stance. He agreed to the changes to HARP, which is more of a stimulus program than a program that will save homes, but which will allow expanded refinancing come March of this year on GSE-owned properties. Freddie Mac just initiated a program for a 12-month forbearance (where the borrower can skip payments) for unemployed borrowers, although Democrats maintain that not everyone eligible will receive that forbearance.

Most promisingly, DeMarco is considering a principal pay-down program put forward by a California Democrat, Zoe Lofgren, that would allow underwater homeowners with GSE loans to have their mortgage payments go entirely to equity for five years, waiving the interest payments. DeMarco said he would look into the idea back in October, and there have been leaks since then suggesting that principal pay-down would happen. However, there has been no final word, and officially FHFA “continues to evaluate” the Lofgren proposal, even though in a meeting with House Dems they promised an assessment within two weeks.

Meanwhile those poor Republican obstructionists have a headache, as Brian Buetler at TPMDC reports:

Scores of House Republicans have signed on to a non-binding resolution disapproving of Obama’s four winter recess appointments – Cordray, and three members of the National Labor Relations Board – all fodder for conservatives, who are furious about the existence of these agencies, let alone the recess appointments themselves.

“It’s astounding to me that the president is claiming these are recess appointments and within his authority, when Congress was not in fact in recess,” said Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) who authored the resolution. “These appointments are an affront to the Constitution. No matter how you look at this, it doesn’t pass the smell test. I hope the House considers my resolution as soon as we return to Washington so we can send a message to President Obama.”

This creates an election-year dilemma for GOP leaders who may not want to make a big show of their opposition to the one person in Washington tasked with protecting consumers from predatory financial actors.

But with so many key vacancies, President Obama has his own dilemma headache, not just to make more recess appointments but how to do it:

[T]he breaks between the last week in January and the first week in August will be very brief ones. Which means that if Obama declines to use his recess appointment power in the next several days, he’ll have three options, none ideal: He can fight it out with Congress and push for regular confirmations; he can wait until August, when Congress goes home for over a month; or he can broaden the parameters of his own precedent, and use the recess appointment during brief one-week vacations between now and then.

Republicans will likely keep holding pro forma sessions during those breaks, challenging Obama to take things further than he already has. [..]

As far as the Constitution and the Senate rules are concerned, there wouldn’t be much difference between a recess appointment in, say, April, and the recess appointments he announced last week. But their public rationale for the January appointments wouldn’t really stand in April. And after attacking President Obama’s supposed power grab, Republicans would slip the precedent in their back pocket, to be deployed when they control the White House.

We shall see if the president has finally abandoned all hope of getting any bipartisan cooperation from the Republicans.

Orszag & Gibbs Have A Bridge In Brooklyn They’d Like To Sell You- On Spec

Peter Orszag, the former White House Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), now a “Distinguished Visiting Fellow” at the   “Council of Foreign Relations,” launched his debut in the New York Times yesterday.  

Orszag’s found a cure for his personal employment prospects:  put himself out for hire to continue the Bush Years deficit spending.

In typical neocon- liberal fashion, he admits there is a problem, and them offers a “compromise” which is supposed to be a concession, which actually does not nothing but continue the current status quo, because it doesn’t really happen.  Orszag writes:


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09…

” Yet no one wants to make an already stagnating jobs market worse over the next year or two, which is exactly what would happen if the cuts expire as planned.  Higher taxes now would crimp consumer spending, further depressing the already inadequate demand for what firms are capable of producing at full tilt. ”

_____

” …. extend the tax cuts for two years, and then end them altogether.  Ideally, only the middle class tax cuts would be continued for now.

Getting a deal in Congress, though, may require keeping the the high income tax cuts, too. And that would still be worth it. ”

On consumer demand, they spend on shelter/utilities and food and then transportation, clothes, and finally luxury goods.  Shelter- we have a housing glut, and don’t need to produce any in the immediate future.  Food- no shortages yet, thankfully, only HUNGER, aka “food insecurity,” whereby the millions of jobless and underemployed are relying on food stamps, food banks, and charities to feed themselves and the school lunch program to feed the kids.  Transportation, ie gasoline prices, are not spiking, but public transportation maintenance is lagging, and even the interstates are literally crumbling in hard hit states, such as CA.  Manufacturing for clothing and consumer goods for things like appliances and electronics, we outsourced overseas in the name of stockholder’s profits.  

WH Budget Muppet Peter Orszag About to Deploy Parachute

Oh, fvucking Hallelujah – maybe.

Another one who’s going to get his life back from what the London School of Economics taught him. https://docudharma.com/diar…

Of course, the announcement was made Annonrahmously so they can then poll furiously to see if this pre election maneuver stokes the proper response from the 50% of the electorate which doesn’t know who he is nor what he does.


WASHINGTON – White House Budget Director Peter Orszag plans to resign, a Democratic official said Monday night, positioning him to be the first high-profile member of President Barack Obama’s team to depart the administration.

Orszag is expected to leave in the coming months. The exact timing is not known.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

The New York Times Blog claims he is out of there by July and is getting married in September.

Keyboard Spew Alert:


http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes…

Mr. Orszag argued inside the White House that his successor should be in place to put the next budget together from the start.

In recent months, Mr. Orszag, 41, espoused deficit reduction strategies in administration debates against those who pressed for more stimulus spending and tax cuts to keep the economy from slipping back into recession. He will leave before the bipartisan debt-reduction commission that Mr. Obama formed earlier this year – and which Mr. Orszag championed – is due to report its recommendations by Dec. 1.

A longtime scholar of health policy economics, Mr. Orszag also helped devise and sell the president’s signature initiative overhauling the health insurance system. He privately has told associates that having worked on two budgets, a stimulus plan and the health care law, it is time to leave while he is ahead.

From Reuters, we receive hints that we aren’t going to get much of a policy change,  


http://www.reuters.com/article…

Potential successors include Laura Tyson, an economist of the University of California at Berkeley, and Gene Sperling, counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Both are former White House economic advisers who served in President Bill Clinton’s administration.  

Another candidate is Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Orszag announced in a speech earlier this month that government agencies were being asked to plan for 5 percent cuts in an array of domestic programs.

Peter Orszag Ready to Cash Out of Obama Cabinet ?

Say it ain’t so, Peter!

Bloomberg News and HuffPo reporting that the White House’s Budget director and bonne vivant “deficit hawk” (sic) Peter Orszag may be considering taking the first lifeboat off the Titanic  leaving President Barack Obama’s cabinet soon.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…


Orszag will make his decision soon, according to a person familiar with the matter, Bloomberg BusinessWeek will report in its April 26 issue. The 41-year-old budget director had been signaling to White House officials that he didn’t plan to remain for the next budget cycle, the person said.

“Signaling ?”  

Per Reuters, a spokesperson for the Office of Budget and Management, Kenneth Baer, said that it was merely “idle speculation” and that he was “focused on his job.”

http://www.reuters.com/article…

The Obama Bipartisan “Debt Commission” is scheduled to meet at the White House next Tuesday the 27th.  

http://www.reuters.com/article…

The President is scheduled to speak, followed by remarks from Orszag and Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, who was roasted yesterday in a House hearing before the Financial Services Committee. Most inspiring video and transcript here: https://docudharma.com/diar…

No doubt Orszag, who has been following North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad’s conservative views on freezing the domestic budget (and blaming it for deficits)  while expanding the military one, is not really looking forward to it as much as the Republicans are.

My earlier diary, on just “Who is Peter Orszag ? ”   https://docudharma.com/diar…


Officially called the Bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the new fiscal watchdog grouping is intended to find ways to bring public spending in line with revenues and slim down massive government borrowing.

It is to offer recommendations to the White House by December 1 to get spending and income back into better balance so deficits fall to 3 percent of total national output by 2015.

Dont forget that War Supplemental Budget for FY 2011 is still pending before Congress and needs to be approved soon-  what’s another $33 Billion for Afghanistan, and $159 billion for the rest of the mid eastern occupation,  off the regular budget, between friends ?

Kewl. No wonder Arizona is leading the way on the plan to deport 20 million American residents who weren’t able to obtain legal status because of our border paranoia and chintzy, racist immigration laws.  Because there is nothing like pandering to the mythology that if you just remove your scapegoat enemies from the territory, you’re going to solve all your own self made problems.