By: Mike Allen
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 tank, colleagues said.
Presidential advisers say a possible successor as director of the Office of Management and Budget is Rob Nabors, who was Orszag’s deputy and went over to the Chief of Staff’s office to be a senior adviser to Rahm Emanuel. Nabors now he attends the 7:30 a.m. senior staff meeting and insiders say his stock never dropped, but only gained in value.
Two other possible replacements 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.
Officials have said for some time that Orszag was trying to decide between leaving this summer and early next year, after the next budget is released. “He went back and forth and couldn’t quite commit,” said a senior colleague. Top aides had pressed him for a decision, and he decided on sooner rather than later, the officials said. Hans Nichols of Bloomberg News first reported the planned departure.
Orszag, 41, is to be married in September to Bianna Golodryga, now co-anchor of the “Good Morning America” weekend edition, as well as ABC News’ business correspondent. The pair was engaged in December, adding to the unlikely celebrity of the wonky Orszag.
Tyson served in the Clinton administration from January 1993 to December 1996, first as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, then as chairman of his National Economic Council. Sperling, her successor as chief economic adviser, served all eight years in the Clinton administration. Tyson is now Berkeley’s S.K. and Angela Chan Professor of Global Management at the Haas School of Business.
Orszag has two signature accomplishments: the stimulus bill andhealth reform, which he advocated from the beginning of the administration. That’s on top of two budgets: The first was deemed “historic” by pundits (“Obama, Breaking ‘From a Troubled Past,’ Seeks a Budget to Reshape U.S. Priorities,” said the New York Times banner headline in February 2009). The second was considered tough by administration insiders because it included a freeze on non-security, discretionary spending.