Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Brag Of Orszag

There's a nice Politico article on the role that OMB director and health wonk hero Peter Orszag played in the final negotiations on the stimulus package:
At the end of the day last Wednesday, Obama aides and a handful of Senators hashed out the details of a $787 billion spending package in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office.

Larry Summers, the architect of the plan, was no longer in the room, and even Rahm Emanuel – who was leading the White House team – sometimes stepped out for meetings. To Reid’s surprise, that left a familiar figure, Peter Orszag, the boyish, gangly director of Obama’s Office of Management and Budget in a position to shape the final compromise.

“Senator Reid seemed particularly surprised that I was effective,” Orszag recalled during an interview in the Old Executive Office Building Tuesday. “He kept saying, like, ‘Aren’t you an academic?’”

"In my mind if there is hero in all of this it is Peter Orszag,” Reid, who knew Orszag from his previous role as director of the Congressional Budget Office, observed, unprompted, to Politico’s David Rogers after the deal was done. “He was wonderful.”
It's a daydream. In addition to being a philosophy professor, I try to do other things well, and maybe I'll do them really well, and somebody, amazed, will say, "Aren't you an academic?" And then the President will sign a big increase in humanitarian aid to poor countries / the colonel and I will turn and walk away from the corpse of Osama Bin Laden / she'll drift off contentedly to sleep.

Anyway, plenty more good stuff in the article about Orszag laying the groundwork for health care reform.


corvus said...

Hey Neil,

I don't mean to go all Assignment Desk or Threadjack on you, (well ok I kinda do) but speaking of Orszag, what do you think about this? Is this to be believed? Are Orszag, and Obama, really going to be integral is diminishing social security. Has Orszag actually declared such interests? I don't know whether to trust FireDogLake. It seems like they all (well, not TBogg or Ackerman) transferred into cranks after Obama pardoned Lieberman. What's going on, should I be worried?

Neil Sinhababu said...

Well, here's the linked article:

"Orszag’s other key agenda item next week will be an effort to change the debate on Medicare and Social Security.

Orszag’s long-running project — something that has made him the left’s favorite Cabinet member — has been replacing talk of an “entitlement crisis” with his argument that Social Security requires only modest tax hikes and benefit cuts, while Medicare and Medicaid have much more dramatic fiscal woes.

“Social Security faces an actuarial deficit over the next 75-100 years. In the past, I’ve resisted the term ‘crisis’ to describe that kind of situation,” he said. “This is not quantitatively as important as getting health care done.”"

I think this operationally means - no changes to Social Security any time soon. Instead, Orszag wants to co-opt the 'entitlement crisis' noise and turn it into health care reform.

corvus said...

Well, I am all for tax hikes, but what could benefit cuts entail? Making people work into their seventies? Making social security insufficient as a source of income? Or just knocking off a few buck here and there?

Does this mean Hamsher is freaking out for no good reason?

...Maybe I should read the Politico article...

corvus said...

Ok, I read the article. It was very good, except I don't know why they bothered quoting someone from Dubya's administration. No one cares what they think or trusts what they say.

But I still can't figure out what the deal is with this summit. Is it an attempt to Run-around Pelosi, or are Obama and Orszag co-opting the Blue Dogs to do their own thing?

corvus said...

Now I feel chastened. Here's Erza to make me feel better. All along I should have been reading my Erza!

Anonymous said...

That seems pretty smart to use the fake crisis in social security to fix what could be a crisis in medicare. Kind of cool to see the rights fear mongering used for good.