Obama expected to name Peter Orszag OMB director

Dennis Cook/AP
President-elect Barack Obama is preparing to tap Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag, once a veteran economic adviser in the Clinton White House, to become his budget director, according to several National Journal sources.

The Office of Management and Budget job -- seen as a key post to help Obama deliver on his domestic policy agenda amidst the gloom of a $700 billion federal financial rescue, a recession and the prospects of a $1 trillion deficit next year -- carries Cabinet rank. An announcement is expected soon, but could come with other personnel decisions Obama is making to lead the Treasury Department and National Economic Council in his White House.

The two leading candidates to become Obama's "honest broker" lead at the NEC are Dan Tarullo and Jacob "Jack" Lew, both respected former members of Bill Clinton's deep economic bench. Both have senior government and academic track records.

Tarullo, a former assistant to the president for international economic policy, is coordinating part of Obama's economic transition team. Lew, a former OMB director and former executive vice president at New York University, heads Citigroup's alternative investments group. Informed sources report that economist Doug Elmendorf is expected to be the Democrats' choice on Capitol Hill to succeed Orszag at CBO. Elmendorf has worked at the Federal Reserve, Treasury, the White House Council of Economic Advisers and CBO, and succeeded Orszag as head of the Brookings Institution's economic-policy initiative called the Hamilton Project.

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.

Click here to read the new blog Lost in Transition, a joint effort of Government Executive and National Journal.

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