Peter Orszag Applies for the Congressional Retirement Plan

Now if former head of the OMB Peter Orszag were only so charitable when it came to disability benefits. From AMERICAblog, here’s the timeline:

2005 Peter Orszag, already at the Brookings Institute, proposes the Diamond-Orszag Plan, “Saving Social Security” (pdf; intro here; comment here). He wants (surprise) benefit cuts. The Diamond-Orszag Plan is now incorporated into the Bowles-Simpson (Mr. 310-Million Tits) Deficit Commission Proposal.

2006 Orszag is picked to direct The Hamilton Project, created by Robert Rubin “to think about what a future Democratic administration would do” in the economic sphere. Senator Obama attends the opening.

2007 Orszag goes to the Congressional Budget Office, where his specialty was analyzing the effect of health care costs on the federal budget.

2009 Orszag runs OMB for President Obama, where he makes Deficit Fear his specialty. During the run-up to the health care bill:

Orszag … had meetings with insurance executives and health experts as the White House made health reform its top legislative priority after enacting the $814 billion stimulus.

2010 Orszag leaves OMB in August and immediately raises his head in September with a NY Times editorial arguing for extension of the Bush tax cuts.

November 3 Orszag writes a NY Times column arguing again for “saving Social Security” by cutting benefits….
From Rubin to Obama to Bowles-Simpson to Citi. Not bad for a guy who had to climb his way up from Exeter.

This is how much of the corruption happens–landing well after you leave government service:

One of the dirty secrets about many, if not most, congressmen and senators is that they like Washington, D.C., rhetoric notwithstanding. They want to stay in town after they leave (or lose) office. Once you’ve tasted the Capital of the Free World, do you really want to go back to Pierre, South Dakota? (Tom Daschle comes to mind…). It’s funny how many politicians, having made a career out of bashing War-Shing-Tun, don’t…seem…to…ever…leave.

I can’t blame them: I moved to Boston, and would be very happy to stay here. Places do grow on you. The problem comes, for politicians, when they have to find a job. For an ex-politician, there aren’t that many ‘straight paths’ to getting your next job: lobbyist and corporate board member are the easiest and the most lucrative.

But if you get a reputation as someone who opposes large business interests, what chance do you have of getting either of these types of jobs? Sometimes, the quid pro quo is very crude and direct (e.g., Billy Tauzin), but the Village’s political culture makes it clear what is acceptable. One should not be ‘populist’, or, heaven forbid, liberal.

Another ethical failure of our elite educational system. While James Fallows seems shocked, this happens all the time. Orszag doesn’t see anything unethical about this, because all of his friends and colleagues routinely do this (or would like to). Somewhere along the line, ethics no longer meant, well, living ethically. Instead, ethical behavior meant ‘not being convicted.’ The problem, as I noted, is that, in Orszag’s circles, this isn’t seen as bad behavior, so shaming wouldn’t work.

Maybe we need to pick better guys up front, and that starts with not supporting de facto Rockefeller Republicans. Personal responsibility: it shouldn’t just be applied to single poor minority mothers.

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