Budget Chief Downplays Splits With Hill

Posted March 25, 2009 at 10:24am

Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag on Wednesday sought to minimize differences between President Barack Obama’s budget and the budget resolutions put together by House and Senate Democrats, saying Congress had preserved key Obama priorities even if there are some omissions.

“The big story is how similar these things are,— Orszag said of the Obama and Congressional budgets. “It’s not surprising that there are some adjustments, but the main thrust— of Obama’s initiatives is preserved, he said in a conference call with reporters.

Lawmakers have reined in Obama’s deficits, moved to ax the president’s extension of a middle-class tax credit and failed to include a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program Obama wants.

Orszag noted that climate change is already being addressed in the House, and he suggested it might be better as a political strategy to move it outside of reconciliation. Orszag said the tax credit would not expire for two years, and there is time to discuss ways to extend it.

Orszag also announced the formation of a panel that will consider ways to find new revenues by closing corporate loopholes, reducing the “tax gap— of uncollected taxes and simplifying the tax code. The panel will be chaired by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, and its staff director will be Obama White House economic aide Austan Goolsbee.

The panel will be required to issue its findings to the president by Dec. 4, meaning its recommendations will not be proposed by Obama until 2010.