Today at 9:30am Eastern, the two key people behind Obamacare will testify under oath before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. One of them is Marilyn Tavenner, the CMS Administrator and the person who was tasked with managing the implementation of Obamacare: a process that was a complete disaster as those who tried to sign up on the healthcare.gov website in late 2013 will recall (and whose overhaul cost over $2 billion). On the other hand, Jonathan Gruber has recently gained notoriety after a series of videos with him were leaked, in which he bragged that deception and “the stupidity of the American voter” allowed Obama to ram his pet healthcare program into law.
Friday's latest resignation of yet another former Obama administration faithful - that of White House press secretary Jay Carney - got us thinking: how many people have jumped off the USS Obamic? The answer is, in short, a lot. Below is a list (by no means complete) of the most prominent officials and advisors who have quietly exited the Obama administration stage left over the past 6 years.
A decision by the FHFA requiring the GSEs to finally release detailed information on loans they acquired and guaranteed uncovers an ugly truth about the GSEs that many should be aware of (as we noted the exuberance here). The release was only required on 35 million fully-amortizing, full documentation, 30-year fixed rate mortgages, which means as JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest notes the underwriting histories on another 20-30 million loans (e.g., the riskier ones) remain a mystery (and likely will forever). As Cembalest concludes, some people made up their minds on all the factors causing the housing crisis in 2009, and others in 2011. As long as new information keeps coming out, it seems premature to close the book on it, he adds, first, the private sector descent into underwriting hell took place well after the multi-trillion dollar GSE balance sheets had gone there first; and second, there are many reasons to wonder how bad the former would have been had the latter not preceded it.
The beast is howling - and Krugman thinks it's his cat purring.
As reported previously, when Bloomberg broke the news two days ago, it now appears that the official appointment of Jack Lew as the new SecTres will take place tomorrow. From Bloomberg: "President Obama will announce tomorrow that White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew is his pick for Treasury secretary, person familiar with the matter tells Bloomberg’s Han Nichols." In other words - goodbye Timmah: best of luck writing your new book, which in the tradition of every ex-public servant who departs the government where they kept their mouths firmly shut, we assume will be all about bashing Tim Geithner.
Bloomberg is out after hours with news that was expected by many, but which was yet to be formalized, until now: namely that following today's flurry of contntious nomination by Obama, the latest and greatest is about to be unveiled - Jack Lew, Obama's current chief of staff, is likely days away from being announced as Tim Geithner's replacement as the new Treasury Secretary of the United States. In other words, Jack will be the point person whom the people who truly run the Treasury, the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, chaired by JPM's Matt Zames (who just happens to also now run the notorious JPM Chief Investment Office which uses excess deposits to gamble - yes, you really can't make this up) and Goldman's Ashok Varadhan, global head of dollar-rate products and FX trading for North America (recently buying a $16 million pad at 15 CPW) will demand action from.
The schizophrenia in US equity markets (and by correlation all risk markets) is nowhere better highlighted than the last 24 hours of 2% swings in the S&P 500 on nothing more than boiler-plate comments from DC. However, as BofAML's Ethan Harris notes, "the year-end fiscal challenges in the US are more like an 'obstacle course' than a 'cliff' - politicians must navigate about 10 major policy decisions before year-end." We continue to expect a messy multistage deal on the cliff - with some wishy-washy partial deal late December and more complete resolution (as it will be called) late Spring. We agree with BoFAML's view that until then, we suggest that investors fade the likely “press fakes” of an imminent deal, and brace for downside volatility. It seems to us that the negotiations remains stuck at square one.
Meet the man, who many say (most of whom correctly) has been running pretty much everything from deep behind the scenes.
"Uh, Marriner Eccles: We Have A Problem" - Obama Predicts He Will Breach Debt Ceiling Two Months Before ElectionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/14/2012 11:19 -0500
In light of the epic fiasco from last August, when the US debt ceiling hike became a 2 month televized affair, culminating with the GOP caving, but not before the S&P downgraded the US (and in the process breaking the US stock market), Zero Hedge has long been analyzing the chronology of future debt breaches, as with the presidential election in November, what happens in the months and weeks ahead of it as pertains to the number one problem facing America - its lethal debt addiction - will be by far the biggest weakness of Obama's campaign. This is something we believe the GOP has finally understood, and they want a full replay of last August's insanity, to remind America just how broke (and broken) this country is. Yet it turns out all of our analyses have been for naught (if 100% correct). Because it is none other than President Barack Obama who has been kind enough to point out, that on September 30, 2012, or in just over 7 months, total US debt subject to the limit will be, wait for it, $16,333,900,000,000. Why is this an issue: because the final debt ceiling that Obama has been afforded with automatic Senatorial roll overs (even as Congress theatrically votes these down), is $16,394,000,000. In other words, with two months ahead of the election, the US will have a de minimis $60 billion in debt capacity. And since the implied burn rate is $133 billion/month this means that the United States will be in full blown debt ceiling hike chaos just as the final electoral debates take place. And one wonders why the GOP rushed to green light Obama an additional $160 billion in debt issuance. If indeed the $160 billion in new debt is added, the US may not even last to September before Tim Geithner is forced to start plundering G-fund and other retirement accounts. It also means that two months of America in a debt ceiling breach situation will deal a dramatic blow to Obama's reelection chances as the last thing the US population will want is a replay of last summer.
The president's own former advisor, and now very much outspoken critic, Peter Orszag has joined the cool kids by releasing the following scathing oped in the NYT, whose topic is, drumroll, QE2: "by perpetuating an artificially low 10-year government bond rate, the Fed may be delaying the very fiscal policy action that the nation most needs, while doing little to boost an economy whose principal problem is not high long-term interest rates." The message, for anyone having read the prior two essays, or Zero Hedge, is nothing new. What is, is the massive onslaught by virtually everyone of any political and financial stature on this pretty much inevitable policy decision by Bernanke. The question we have is did Goldman's estimate that QE2 needs to be up to $4 trillion blow the party? Are expectations for future monetary easing so high (and unattainable) now that the market had to be artificially be pushed lower so there is some upside on November 3? Because for all those who believe that the Fed has found religion and thinks a strong dollar is suddenly a policy goal, we have two words: "Wake up."
Some simple math and even simpler warnings from BNY ConvergEx' Nicholas Colas: "Managing the U.S. Federal budget is one of the toughest jobs in Washington, and the task recently took its toll on OMB Director Peter Orszag who announced his imminent departure on Tuesday. So, to ease the transition for his lucky replacement, we have slimmed down the U.S. Budget into a short introduction to the challenges ahead. Here you are, Mr./Ms Budget Director: for the Fiscal Year ended September 2009, the average employed worker contributed $12,748 in income tax payments to the Federal government. The budget created by Mr. Orszag (who we read is a very bright fellow) spent $16,809 on behalf of that same worker for: defense, federal worker salaries, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security payments, unemployment benefits, and food stamps. Oh, and that’s just the biggest/most noticeable items in the budget. That “average” worker now has $65,237 in Treasuries debt to pay off, up from $56, 861 just eight months ago. So, good luck to you, future OMB Director. We will watch your career with considerable interest."
The man singlehandedly responsible for the smallest, "biggest inconsistency" in US budgetary history (that whole $6.3 billion in GSE's left off the US balance sheet, for the full post read "Obama's budget has one small, missing piece... For $6.3 trillion"), Peter Orzsag, currently head of Obama' budget office and previously head of the Congressional Budget Office, and also responsible for the most ridiculous budget in US history (what is the most recent 2020 projected deficit: $100 trillion? $100 quadrillion? does anyone even care?) is out. Bloomberg reports: "White House Budget Director Peter Orszag plans to leave President
Barack Obama’s Cabinet in July, before the White House begins preparing
its next budget, administration officials said." This is arguably the biggest slap in the face of the administration's failed budgetary efforts: the rats are now openly jumping ship, knowing full well that the US will soon be ($20 billion in debt) underwater.