Peter Orszag, the healthcare-savvy director of the Congressional Budget Office, has been named by President-elect Barack Obama to head the White House budget office.
Throughout his career, he has made significant contributions in our understanding of all the major economic challenges we are now confronting, Obama said at a news conference. As (CBO director), he reenergized and reinvigorated the agency while shifting its focus to confront the healthcare crisis that is not only a cause of so much suffering for so many families, but a rapidly growing portion of our budget and a drag on our entire economy.
Orszag resigned his CBO position. In his final blog post, he praised the agencys objective, nonpartisan and timely analyses of economic and budgetary issues. CBO Deputy Director Robert Sunshine has been named acting director.
While widely praised for his healthcare IQ, which was frequently on display at dozens of congressional hearings, Orszag nevertheless frustrated some within health policy circles for a reluctance to look at future savings as a means to offset the cost of new legislation.
Lawmakers have signaled that broad health reform legislation on the runway for 2009 may need to tap those future cost savers as a means to more closely adhere to budget rules on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and an author of a health reform blueprint, lauded the Orszag choice. I think hes terrific, Baucus told reporters last week. Its continuity from CBO to OMB.
Baucus said hes not concerned about how the CBO has scored past legislation. President Obama knows, Congress knows, Peter Orszag knowswhether its CBO or OMBthat we need meaningful healthcare reform and were going to find a way to make it work.
The CBO is expected to release a report on healthcare next month. -- by Matthew DoBias