No, not Obama, not Baucus, not Grassley.  It’s Doug Elmendorf, CBO director.

Not once, or twice, but three times he has scored Congress proposals’ cost way higher than expected, which has resulted on damaging headlines. His rationale is that he is being conservative, and he will not credit any cost savings from changes and programs that aren’t proven.

Unfortunately there is little his predecessor Peter Orzag, now Obama’s OMB director, can do about it.

Krugman is crying foul, but a lot more pressure needs to be applied.

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Misleading layoff news

July 27, 2009

Verizon reported weak Q2 results today due to shrinkage in their wireline unit.  So of course they announced more layoffs, which is just standard operating procedure for a CFO wanting to reassure The Street that costs are being contained and profitability is being restored next quarter.  Whether those cuts actually materialize no one ever checks.

So you end up with a scary “Verizon to Cut 8,000 More Jobs” headline on the Journal‘s and other front pages.

Meanwhile we learn that they are aggressively adding FiOS TV and broadband customers, and the rumor is they are hurrying to launch their LTE network in early 2010, perhaps for Apple’s tablet, which you would think requires serious capital investments and manpower for deployment.  So you have to wonder what the net effect is on jobs.  Definitely not 8,000 fewer.

And of course Microsoft is opening dozens of stores, and 7-Eleven is planning a major expansion this year, including 600 stores in Southern California alone.  But you would never see this headline on the front pages: “7-Eleven adding 5,000 jobs”.

Oklahoman stupidity

July 27, 2009

There are many fine points to be argued over when discussing global warming, overfishing, peak oil, stimulus packages, etc.

But some things are simply self-evident.  So when Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) says this:

People complain that we are buying — importing from the Middle East — oil and gas. And then they find out that we have it all right here. We don’t have to do that. If their argument there is “Well, we don’t want to use oil and gas because we think it pollutes” — which it doesn’t — but if that’s their argument, then why are we willing to import it from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East?

He either a) is stupid, or b) thinks we’re all stupid.

No, Mr. Inhofe, black is not white, up is not down.