Bringing UP the REAR: Douglas W. Elmendorf, PhD, Director of the Congressional Budget Office

by 14 May 2012

(TheNicheReport) -- I’ve been writing this column every month for… I don’t know… it has to be three years now, or darn close.  And as those that read it know, I select an individual each month and basically call him or her out for being a “rear end,” or a jackass, if you prefer.  It’s not a particularly difficult task; unfortunately, it seems that buttheads are ubiquitous these days.

But, usually I manage to chastise my victim using humor… and if that’s not possible, I can always fall back on prose laced with a heavy dose of sarcasm.  In point of fact, I’ve become fairly well known for my use of sarcasm in such columns.  Just today, for example, I was on the phone with a fairly senior member of the Obama Administration… someone who works in a senior policy position at Treasury but shall remain nameless… and during that conversation I was told that my article one month last year “really pissed off my son.”

I apologized… said that it wasn’t meant to be personal, and that I had no plans to do anything like it again.  “Don’t worry, you’re only a ‘REAR’ once,” I explained.

A few months back was a real challenge, however, when my chosen REAR was Edward DeMarco, acting director at the FHFA, the conservator for the spectacular failures that are Fannie and Freddie… the GOEs, I call them - “Government Owned Entities.”  It wasn’t hard to choose him, he’s a mammoth REAR END, to be sure.  But, it was impossible to be funny, and my best shot at sarcasm was to suggest that “the DeMarco problem,” could be easily handled by simply shooting the man at dawn.  That came across as being sarcastic, right?  I’m pretty sure it was intended that way….

I mean, DeMarco’s well-publicized obstinacy related to Fannie and Freddie doing more to mitigate the carnage being caused by the foreclosure crisis is nothing short of maddening.  For one man to be the proximate cause of so much human suffering, well… he should have to be a despotic monarch.  And when you consider the fact that Fannie and Freddie are zombies, as companies go -  bankrupt… insolvent… ruined beyond all hope - it’s not like holding out is accomplishing anything positive.  It’s simply a case of taxpayers foreclosing on taxpayers, and therefore decimating the accumulated wealth of American taxpayers. 

It’s truly crackerjack work, no question about it, and assuming you’re working with
a fully developed adult human brain, it should make you want to chew on glass or lay down in traffic.  That President Obama is helpless and DeMarco’s power reigns supreme, well… don’t get me started.

The point is… it’s not the least bit humorous.  In Oceanside, California, just during the last four weeks, there were 14 foreclosure-related suicides and murder-suicides, and six of the dead were children.  Are you laughing?  Me either.

So, this month I’ve chosen the Director of the CBO, Douglas W. Elmendorf as the REAR, and if you don’t already know what’s driving my choice then you may want to stop reading now, and go do something else… because what you’re about to discover is flat-out repulsive… no, worse than that - treasonous?  I don’t want to come off as being too extreme, but...

You see, Lan T. Pham, PhD, who was a “senior staffer financial economist” at the CBO, and who was fired after less than three months on the job, went public with some of the details of her experience working for Mr. Elmendorf after her dismissal by writing a letter to Senator Grassley, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

In that letter, Lan explained that during the fall of 2010, while working at the CBO, she was told not to publish or incorporate any data about the U.S. housing and mortgage markets… nothing about the foreclosure crisis, nothing that might spoil the CBO’s “forecasts,” and I use that term extremely loosely.

Here’s what Pham said that she was told in no uncertain terms by CBO leadership, among many other equally damning things…

  • Statements could not be made attributing the decline in property tax revenues to foreclosures and the decline in home prices.
  • Foreclosures had no impact on U.S. home prices.
  • The decline in home prices had no impact on U.S. household wealth.
  • The emerging foreclosure fraud problems in September 2010 were due to “media sensationalism,” and “the kind of event of the moment where we should be adding skepticism,” and “not just repeating the hype in the press,” and discussing it “lacks judgment about what is important.”
  • “Alternative viewpoints are suppressed or questioned as ‘pessimistic’ by CBO Director Doug Elmendorf.  Economic facts inconvenient to the CBO's forecasts of economic growth, recovery and other estimates are omitted or suppressed so the desired message may be delivered.”
  • And finally, the implications have profound financial and economic consequences that would be of compelling interest to Congress, and the public, but the CBO sought to silence a discussion of such risks that in reality have been materializing.

Okay, so this doesn’t need any further qualification… you did it… in your role as Director of the Congressional Budget Office, you deliberately withheld and even masked and knowingly distorted information vital to the current and future wellbeing of the United States of America during the most severe and damaging national economic emergency since the 1930s.

You lied to Congress, if only by omission.  You withheld critical information from the President of the United States, or at least I’m going to pray you did, because if you didn’t… if your conspiracy to see this country’s economy so substantively disrupted as to become utterly destroyed, with trillions of dollars in middle-class wealth eviscerated to such a degree that there is no hope for it to return in my lifetime, actually involved the White House, well then… Dear God, sir… what have you done?

What have you done to lives of hundreds of millions of Americans citizens… to the elderly, the destitute, to those too young to be able to speak out or defend themselves - to say nothing of what your suppression of information has done to untold numbers of people around the globe?

Do you not realize how many lives you’ve destroyed by your actions… how many have taken their own lives because of what you’ve done in your capacity as director of the CBO?  How many are today being forced to grow up without mothers and fathers because of what you engineered and accomplished?

As someone who, during this exact period of time in this country’s history, has devoted almost all of my time… seven days a week, and more often than not 16 hours a day… to writing about these facts as you worked to keep them concealed, you have robbed me and my family personally of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  When I think of how many times I was asked why our government wasn’t saying what I was saying in countless articles… “they had to know,” people asked almost daily… “why is it that they do not say a word?”...

I am physically sickened by what you have done, by what you have allowed to happen. You, a graduate of Princeton with an undergraduate degree in economics, a Masters in Economics and then a Doctorate in Economics, the last two degrees from Harvard?  You cannot claim ignorance or feign indifference. 

I suppose I’ll never know who else was involved in what you’ve done to this nation by manipulating and withholding such information from Congress, from the president, from the American people and from the world.  You are a traitor to my country.  You should be incarcerated for the remainder of your life at a minimum… were it up to me, you would be tried and held accountable.

And even as you saw the impact of your decision to withhold information grow and continue to do harm to the Obama presidency… even as you saw the economic conditions worsening so dramatically, you just turned your back on tens of millions who today live on food stamps and with no hope of employment for years to come?  Beg this country’s forgiveness, and pray for your soul.

Martin AndelmanMartin Andelman is a staff writer for The Niche Report. He also writes an almost daily column on ML-Implode called Mandelman Matters. He also publishes a Monthly Museletter and you can follow “Mandelman” on Twitter. Send your responses to


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