Nevermind Rahm Emanuel: Peter Orszag to quit Obama White House in July
Since the Daily Telegraph of London spread rumors that Rahm Emanuel would quit the White House not far off in the future, many have wondered if President Obama’s White House was finally ready to get started on to its post-November 2010 time period. But a much surer sign of the shake-up is the announcement tonight that Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag will quit the White House next month:
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 thank, colleagues said.
Orszag played a critical role in setting the ground work for President Obama’s health care reform plans. He helped establish the fiscal arguments for the policies that ultimately were built into the bills that were passed by Congress in the most sweeping social policy reform since LBJ was president.
Orszag also faced some major distractions – notably the revelation that he dumped his pregnant girlfriend for another woman before she had their baby. This strategic leak, in early January 2010, was clearly intended to throw the White House off its game and create distractions as the health care reform legislation passed in both houses of Congress headed into its terminal phase. And who knows – maybe it worked, given that Senator Scott Brown was elected days later and ended the Democrat’s mirage-like filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
Health care reform passed, and Orszag in his think tank future will be able to go on television and make the case for why his legacy as the White House budget director is cast in stone. The question is who will come next. Mike Allen points to a pair of ex-Bill Clinton employees – Laura D’Andrea Tyson and Gene Sperling – as likely candidates. Bloomberg also suggests ex-Orszag deputy Rob Nabors.
Obama’s pick is likely the one who can do the best to mollify a possible Republican Congress next year. A long-time partisan associated very strongly with Democratic causes will be catnip to Republican committee chairs who will use his or her every utterance as evidence of being beholden to the interest groups at the heart of the Democratic base. An OMB director more capable of squirming around those objections will be better capable of making the fiscal arguments that will be necessary for President Obama to accomplish more of his agenda items as he leans into his effort to be re-elected in 2012.