Bloomberg reports that Peter Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, has indicated that he wants to leave his post in the next few weeks. However, he has begun to reconsider after Barack Obama insisted that he serve another year. Apparently, it’s hard to find someone who can make $2.2 trillion errors in deficit projections:
White House Budget Director Peter Orszag was poised to become the first member of Barack Obama’s Cabinet to leave, as early as this summer. Then came an appeal from the president insisting that he reconsider.
Orszag will make his decision soon, according to a person familiar with the matter, Bloomberg BusinessWeek will report in its April 26 issue. The 41-year-old budget director had been signaling to White House officials that he didn’t plan to remain for the next budget cycle, the person said.
While it is common for budget directors to begin to exit after about 18 months, Orszag’s departure would come just as Obama has begun to focus on deficit reduction.
Democrats hiked annual spending from $2.77 trillion in FY2007 to over $3.8 trillion in FY2010 — a 37% increase in three years — and now Obama wants to focus on deficit reduction. Given that track record, the best option would be to get rid of the people who have run the budgeting process during that time. That includes Orszag, who served as the Congressional Budget Office director from the moment Democrats took over Congress in January 2007 until he joined Obama’s Cabinet as OMB chief. It would, of course, also include the Democrats running Congress, too.
But the problem with Orszag isn’t just that his theme song could be “Hey Big Spender.” As CBO Director, Orszag also provided cover for Democrats who argued against reforming Social Security by claiming that the system was in good enough shape to maintain its cash surpluses through 2019. Surprise! The SSA has already tipped over into cash deficits, and will continue collapsing thanks to the efforts of Orszag and the Democrats to stymie real reform. Orszag also managed to miss the ten-year deficit projection figure by $2.2 trillion, although King Banaian blames that more on Christine Romer — who also didn’t lose her job over it.
The question isn’t whether we should keep Orszag. It’s why both Orszag and Romer still have jobs in this administration.