The White House announced this morning that it would be delaying release of updated financial and economic forecasts until the middle of August. In other words, its usual mid-July update of key forecasts for policy makers will not be published in time for expected House and Senate votes on health care reform. This delay matters enormously to the deliberations of Congress on this central issue. If it knew that the near-term budget picture is worsening and that it cannot count on a recovering economy to produce much needed revenues for reforming health care, it might hesitate in passing legislation that would add tremendously to the national debt.In the private sector, a management team that kept a company's worsening financial condition from stockholders and then attempted to borrow funds to expand its business would probably find itself in very serious legal trouble. Hiding material facts about the likely near-term financial condition of a business commonly violates a number of federal regulations, particularly after passage of Sarbanes-Oxley reforms to required financial reporting rules.
Heritage suggests that both houses of Congress pass an immediate resolution to force the White House to release the numbers.
I wonder how much of this has to do with the fact of deniability. Obama's numbers on health care are eroding fast, and he's pushing hard for Congress to DO SOMETHING. It is possible that he's willing to take anything simply to say he succeeded in getting a bill passed, even if it's not exactly what he would prefer. By putting Congress in a black hole for information, he could be setting up what he knows is the inevitable backlash to this disaster. Let's say a bill got passed and signed into law, and the system crashed in America like it has everywhere else. People will be out for political blood, right? If Congress put forward the bill that caused the disaster (based largely upon a lack of information from the White House), he can point at them as being the ones who made the bad policy, and he just signed it because he wanted to do something. Suddenly, he's the hero, and Congress is the bad guy.
Just a guess...what do you think?
Anyway, here's what some professional bloggers think.
Slublog via Ace of Spades:
In other words, 'don't worry about the budget, just pass my craptastic bills.' Normally, such behavior from an administration that promised historic levels of transparency would be something of an outrage, but it's becoming par for the course these days. If the fabled Blue Dog Democrats actually exist, this would be a perfect time for them to start making noise. The White House is hiding information they need to do their jobs in a responsible fashion and they should refuse to vote on any bill that has a significant fiscal impact until the budget update is released.That is an excellent point! Will anyone bother to ask this question of The Obamessiah? I doubt it, but the answer would be very informative.
Still, this does raise an interesting question. If, as Obama claims, the healthcare bill will actually save money, why hide the budget figures until after it's passed instead of presenting the plan as a strategy toward greater solvency?
Obama cannot afford to have another report hit the street showing that he has miscalculated — again — the extent of the deficit, just as he proposes a deficit-busting program. The White House has instead iced the report to keep people from seeing just how badly Democratic spending has dented the budget, and how revenues have not recovered despite their predictions of growth by Q2. They want to hold off those numbers until Obama has a bill he can sign on his desk, by which time it will be too late.
Consider this: if those budget numbers looked good, would the White House postpone revealing them? Obama could use all the good news he can get at the moment, especially with two big-spending bills stalling in Congress. If the deficit looked better than their May predictions, or even if it looked the same, those numbers would have already hit the front pages of newspapers across America and every network news broadcast, with the message that the worst has passed.This is a shell game, a 3-card Monty being played by the Obama administration.
It's as opaque as a brick wall, especially considering Obama's pledge that "transparency will be the touchstone of my administration."
Ever get that prickly feeling on the back of your neck that you're being screwed? Listen to it now.
There's my two cents.