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***UPDATE*** 11/25 1230PM
President-elect Barack Obama named Peter Orszag as his budget director
President-elect Barack Obama named Peter Orszag as his budget director on Tuesday and said his job will be to conduct a thorough review of federal spending programs, "eliminating those programs we don't need and insisting that those we do need operate in a cost-effective way."
With the economy in crisis, Obama said, "Budget reform is not an option. It's a necessity."
***UPDATE*** 11/24 6:13PM Ezra Klein reflects on what the selection of Orszag means for healthcare reform:
If you're interested in health care reform, the appointment of Peter Orszag to be director of the Office of Management and Budget is second only in importance to the the elevation of Tom Daschle to health czar and HHS secretary.
OMB is a strange place. It's incredibly important, but also somewhat amorphous. It's a cabinet level agency that offers policy recommendations to the president, scores programs, builds the yearly budget. It is how the executive branch imposes empirical rigor on its agencies, and coheres their work into a single budget. In that way, it is the connective tissue of the federal bureaucracy. And the director sits atop all that, sets many of the agency's priorities, and is, generally, one of the president's top policy advisers.
Peter Orszag has reportedly been tapped as Obama's budget director, the National Journal reports. Orszag, another Clinton veteran, would be at a cabinet level position if he decided to take the Office of Management and Budget job.
Orszag, who will turn 40 on Dec. 16, has been praised by lawmakers from both parties as an objective analyst with deep knowledge of the most pressing fiscal issues of the day, including health care policy, Social Security, pensions, and global climate change. He is the unusual economist who blends an understanding of politics, policy and communications in ways that wrap zesty quotes around complex ideas. If confirmed by the Senate to move to OMB, Orszag will have completed half of his four-year CBO term. Orszag, a father of two school-age children and an avid runner, holds degrees from Princeton University and the London School of Economics. The National Academies of Sciences' Institute of Medicine recently made him a member.
The New York Times, writing before Peter Orszag was appointed to OMB, speculated that he was the likely pick, but that his detractors would cite the following:
Carries as baggage: Like other young economists who are in line for economic advisory jobs in the Obama administration, Mr. Orszag (who turns 40 in December) is a protégé of Robert E. Rubin, the former treasury secretary. The prominence of such "Rubinesque" centrists is vexing to liberals and union leaders in the Democratic Party, who favor some trade protectionism and more domestic spending and oppose the centrists' emphasis on free trade and fiscal responsibility.
Peter Orszag has maintained a blog while working at the Congressional Budget Office where he posts on things like lectures he's given on climate change and medicine as well as opinions on finance, like this post on overinvesting in company stock.
Peter Orszag's bio at the Congressional Budget Office includes details about his education and family life:
Dr. Orszag graduated summa cum laude in economics from Princeton University and obtained an M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in economics from the London School of Economics, which he attended as a Marshall scholar. He has coauthored or coedited a number of books, including Protecting the Homeland 2006/7 (2006), Aging Gracefully: Ideas to Improve Retirement Security in America (2006), Saving Social Security: A Balanced Approach (2004), and American Economic Policy in the 1990s (2002). Dr. Orszag is a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Sciences.
Dr. Orszag is an avid runner and the proud father of two children, Leila and Joshua.
The New York Times piece also had this to add, regarding Peter Orszag's personality:
Is otherwise known for: Running marathons and attending country-western concerts. In a June 2007 appearance on CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight," Mr. Orszag's paraphrase of a country star's hit song disarmed Mr. Dobbs, who was unsuccessfully pushing Mr. Orszag, as the Congressional Budget Office director, to validate his own views that illegal immigrants impose high costs on taxpayers. "Well, Lou, as Toby Keith would say, that's not how it is," Mr. Orszag said. The host, taken aback by the unlikely allusion from the bespectacled economist, replied, "You rock on, Mr. Director!"
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