Monday, July 27, 2009

Did Elmendorf Just Break Out His Finishing Move on Orzag and ObamaCare?

Over the last few days, we've joyously followed the soap-operatic nerdfight between CBO's "Damagin'" Doug Elmendorf and OMB's Peter "The Piper" Orzag (note: fake nicknames) over the House ObamaCare legislation. The quarrel has been intense, and pretty much indecipherable (it's the federal budget, afterall), so for those of you who find numbers scary, here's a visual interpretation of the fracas:

(CBO is obviously represented by the team throwing lightning bolts and sleep spells. Obviously.)

Well, it appears that Elmendorf may have just unleashed his finishing move on Orzag and his ObamaCare Obfuscations (holy alliteration, Batman!). From Ed Morrissey:

The CBO released a new analysis of the House version of ObamaCare yesterday, after getting blasted by White House budget director Peter Orszag for "exaggerating” the costs associated with the proposal. Douglas Elmendorf tells Rep. Dave Camp (R), the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, that the changes proposed by the White House will have little impact on their cost analysis, and that in fact the news gets worse in the second decade after the first runs up a $239 billion deficit: ... "In sum, relative to current law, the proposal would probably generate substantial increases in federal budget deficits during the decade beyond the current 10-year-budget window."

"Fatality" for ObamaCare as we know it? Greg Mankiw sure thinks so, and Chuck Todd says that the House definitely won't vote on the current version before Summer Break. But whether the bill changes dramatically over that time remains to be seen. I think it has to change, and significantly, but I'm certainly no expert. (Rumors are that the Senate version could replace the public option with a "co-op" that might garner some squish GOP'ers.)

But whatever form ObamaCare takes, here's what we know for sure: Orzag better bring his A-game because Damagin' Doug is a bad, bad man.

To which I can only say: Finish him, Doug.

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