Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crossing the Line on the Separation of Powers in Washington

President Barack Obama ‘called’ CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf the other day to ‘invite’ him to the White House for a ‘friendly chat’, no doubt. The reason? The President wanted to talk to Elmendorf about his CBO projections that showed the Obama health care plan running up massive amounts of more debt.

Elmendorf, the lone legislative branch appointee, was there along with the President and just a few of his closest, biggest and most prominent advisors: Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Phil Schiliro, Director of the White House Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle, Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag (a former CBO director himself), National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Christy Romer, senior adviser David Axelrod, and press secretary Robert Gibbs. Others were there as well, including Department of Health and Human Services adviser Meena Seshamani, Harvard University economist David Cutler and Alice Rivlin of the Brookings Institute, who was founding director of CBO from 1975-1983.

That was not just a friendly chat over a cup of tea, ladies and gentlemen. Anyone who has ever been in Washington recognizes that was a full-blown display of power with the hopes of intimidating the CBO Director into changing some of his economic assumptions about the pending health care plan.

The explanation was that they wanted to ask the CBO Director for some of his ideas about how to lower health care costs in the future. What do you mean, they couldn’t just read all of the CBO publications that have been published in excruciating detail about ALL of the CBO proposals for cost containment? Here is only the latest one right here: click on CBO to see for yourself. (that is just Volume 1, by the way..there's more where that came from)

One of the key tenets of our federal government since our formation has been the clear separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government. After all, the very last thing the Founding Fathers of the country wanted to ever see was a powerful chief executive of our nation run roughshod over a compliant Congress and the independent bodies they established to help them in their legislative efforts. The memory of an arrogant King George III was just too recent and repugnant for them to imagine allowing such as situation to ever arise in the newly birthed United States of America.

If anything, the framers preferred to see a compliant President bow down and do what our representatives in Congress told him to do through majority vote legislation.

I seriously doubt that at any time under Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 did any President even know the name of the CBO Director, much less invite him over for a polite afternoon tea party.

This is a breach of protocol and procedure that should not go unnoticed by you as the voting public. We are not an attack dog post against all things Obama. Nor are we an apologist for the Bush Administration. But think about this: Had President George Bush 43 done the same thing, impeachment papers would have been served up almost immediately in the House of Representatives for violating over 220 years of tradition and courtesy if nothing else.


  1. Thanks, Kook. Maybe you should run for Congress....I have always thought there were always a lot of Congressman Kooks out there anyway!

  2. What do you think of emailing the CBO Director to show support & encouragement for his independence? Do you have a link to do this?

  3. good idea...the CBO Director's blog can be reached at and i will try to find some way of direct communication to him. If I find it, I will post it in another future posting soon

  4. Thanks Frank. Went to that link and found a blog entry written by Elmedorf titled "CBO's Independence" dated July 23 discussing the White House meeting. Found the email address Just sent him a "Way to go and thank you".

  5. great....I'll send him an "Attaboy!" as well and will urge everyone to do so as well. He has got to stay as an unbiased independent analyst...if he makes everyone on both sides mad, then he has done the Republic a great public service.


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