President Obama's budget director Peter Orszag, who supposedly made "nerdy sexy," is skedaddling from Washington before the huge budgetary Potemkin facades he erected come crashing down.
Orszag was the numbers-crunching guru who supplied the economic myths, er, rationale for Obamacare. The 2000-page, trillion-dollar program would actually "bend the cost curve" down over the next decade, Orszag argued, without sacrificing quality and while serving 30 million new recipients. Uh-huh. It has only been three months since this Byzantine, but in any case unread, behemoth was passed; yet already, the Congressional Budget Office has acknowledged that the legislation will cost $200 billion more than was projected at the time of passage.
The other economic assumptions undergirding Obamanomics -- such as the idea that every dollar of stimulus spending would yield $1.50 in economic expansion -- have been similarly short-lived. But as the budget director makes for the exits in advance of the sheriff, we should not let him go without reflecting on his peculiar social significance.
Orszag was hardly the first prominent Washingtonian to lead a complicated personal life -- but he may have been the first to achieve celebrity because of it. In January, Orszag made the gossip columns twice. The first accomplishment -- the divorced father of two had just become a father again with ex-girlfriend Claire Milonas. Just weeks later, the father of three announced his engagement to ABC news correspondent Bianna Golodryga.
The Washington Post gossip column gushed: "Peter Orszag! What is it about that guy, and how did he become the Tom Brady of D.C.? ... The romantic drama heightens the mystique surrounding President Obama's youngest Cabinet-level appointee, who, in a city full of wonks, enjoyed a brief unlikely reign as Washington's most eligible bachelor before his engagement. Something about those Harold Ramis-in-'Ghostbusters' looks, on a 6-2 marathoner's frame, inspired Internet fan pages like Orszagasm.com. 'He made nerdy sexy,' Rahm Emanuel told the New York Times last year."
Cultural bellwether Jon Stewart -- albeit with sarcasm and nonchalant polymorphous sexuality -- joined in the adulation of the foxy policy guy.