David Cameron used the revised figures to claim that there would be fewer public sector job losses under coalition plans than under Labour's plans. But as the FT points out, "the OBR accepts that the prime minister’s claim was based on comparing policies not yet announced by government and was the equivalent of comparing apples with oranges." I doubt this was malicious on Cameron's part – but, if his predecessor had done likewise, it's exactly the kind of thing that we at Coffee House might have called a Brownie. So it's only fair to point it out now.
All this is damaging because, at core, the OBR is such a promising idea – and one which, I think, is already making a positive contribution to the fiscal debate in this country. But any serious question marks about its independence or motivation now, and it could be sunk before it has even had chance to bed in. I said a few days ago that George Osborne might gain from making the hunt for Alan Budd's successor more transparent. There's an even stronger case for that now.