It looks as though Rahm Emanuel won’t be the first insider to leave the Obama White House after all. Peter Orszag, Obama’s budget director, will leave in July after serving 18 months. In that time, Orszag managed to leave a substantial legacy — as in a trillion-dollar-plus deficit and a $2.2 trillion math error:
White House budget director Peter Orszag plans to leave government in July, becoming the first member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet to depart, administration officials said Monday. Orszag is likely to join a think thank, colleagues said.
Presidential advisers say Orszag’s two most likely successors as director of the Office of Management and Budget each served as chief economic adviser to President Bill Clinton: Laura D’Andrea Tyson of the University of California at Berkeley, named by Obama as a member of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board; and Gene Sperling, now a counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
Tyson would provide the economic team with an effective spokesperson on television. And she’d add gender diversity at the top of the administration, especially if Christina Romer, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, becomes president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, as expected. Obama has nominated the current president, Janet Yellen, as the Fed’s vice chair.
An outsider is unlikely to get the job, the officials said. One possibility would be Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Jack Lew, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, was also mentioned, but held the job under Clinton, and so [is] considered unlikely to want to go back.
This closes one of the worst budgeting debacles in American history. Orszag’s tenure produced the worst budget deficit of our time, the FY2010 budget with $1.3 trillion in red ink. The budget process has gotten so bad that Democrats didn’t even bother to produce one for FY2011, the first time in decades that a House has failed to even propose a budget. Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the White House, and the filibuster doesn’t apply to budgets — so why are they afraid to propose one for FY2011, which starts in just over three months? Orszag’s last budget has to be a big part of that.
Let’s also recall the signature moment in the Obama administration’s efforts on deficit reduction. Despite the consensus that the Obama budgets would create a $9.3 trillion increase in debt over the next ten years, Orszag insisted that it would actually be $7.1 trillion. Only after the FY2010 budget request had been out for over a month did Orszag concede that he’d made a $2.2 trillion error. Small wonder that Orszag’s departure had been rumored for at least two months.
However, let’s not kid ourselves that Orszag’s departure will make a difference in budget problems, although it may at least bring a little more competence to the process. The real problems with the budget come from the Democratic agenda of big-spending, big-government programs at the expense of taxpayers who will have to eventually foot the bill. In order to fix that, we don’t need to replace Peter Orszag. We need to replace Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama.