Oct. 20, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Next Budget Director Will Get Earful

Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) called Orszag’s decision to leave the OMB “a loss for the country.” He said Orszag has a command of the issues and an understanding of the necessity to reduce deficits and debt, as well as a comprehension that economic recovery comes first.

Conrad, a budget hawk who on occasion hasn’t been shy about putting this administration on the spot over its fiscal policies, said he would like to see someone similar to Orszag succeed him as OMB director. The Budget chairman declined to drop names, but he did say he would prefer CBO Director Doug Elmendorf stay where he is.

“We need him badly there,” Conrad said, adding that he expects the confirmation process to be difficult. “That’s always a challenge around here — confirmations.”

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has built his career around the idea that Washington spends too much money, said he would prefer Obama nominate someone who “knows how to cut spending” and said hopes his GOP colleagues subject Obama’s nominee to tough questioning.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who faces a tough re-election battle this fall, said she would like someone similar to Orszag in intelligence and someone who has a deep background in budget and fiscal issues.

Gregg views Orszag as one of the few administration officials with credibility on the deficit and the debt. “When he left CBO, he certainly had quite a reputation as a fiscally responsible voice around this place,” Gregg said.

However, Gregg said Orszag’s philosophy on government spending as he interprets it is inconsistent with supporting the Obama administration’s domestic priorities, particularly the $787 billion stimulus package and the new health care law, projected by CBO to cost about a trillion dollars over the next decade.

Gregg added that much of what the administration did “is the opposite of what somebody who is fiscally responsible would support.”

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