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Orszag Out?

Bloomberg reports that Peter Orszag is pretty set on leaving the cabinet, and that President Obama has appealed on him to stay:

April 22 (Bloomberg) — 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.

Maybe he can hire Dean Baker and we won’t have a focus on deficit reduction anymore… oh, I do make myself laugh.

The story notes that it’s perfectly normal to get a quick burnout from a budget director, and it also lists some possible replacements:

Among the leading contenders to succeed Orszag are Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Robert Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute and a former CBO director; and Gene Sperling, a Treasury Department adviser who’s also under consideration for the vacant OMB deputy job, an administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. All three have advocated for fiscal restraint.

Greenstein would be about the best progressives could realistically hope for in this spot, in my opinion.

Interesting to see how much Obama leans on Orszag. Personally, I don’t see him as some kind of irreplacable budget wizard. Lots of people can do that job and do it well, without the nods to the deficit scolds.

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David Dayen

David Dayen