Orszag: 'Obama is not a socialist'

Peter Orszag, who left his post as the director of the Office of Management and Budget at the end of July, said in an interview Sunday that President Obama is not a socialist.

Orszag, on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," when asked about public perceptions of Obama's "quasi-socialist" aims, said "some of the descriptions that are out there are just completely off."

"President Obama is not a socialist," Orszag said.

"One would think that a socialist would be all in favor of jumping at the opportunity to nationalize banks," he said. "He has maintained the basic structure of our capitalist system despite the fact that we have gone through a very dramatic period."

Orszag said Obama's actions reflected "yearning for pragmatic solutions to the problems that we face" and that the socialist label "just does not fit."

The former OMB director brushed off assertions that Obama's lack of experience in the business world had shaped his views on private enterprise.

"I think that the most important explanation is we have gone through an unbelievable experience in this country, where private sector borrowing collapsed," he said when asked why the business community butted heads with Obama. "The economy was in a tailspin. And in that setting, it's not surprising that emotions run high and there's lots of frustration on both sides, because the administration claims, you don't understand, we're protecting you from what would happen.

"And the administration, I think, believes it's stepping in and taking a sensible path to try to work our way forward and not being appreciated for what it is doing," Orszag said. "On the other hand, corporate America has this sense that the administration doesn't get what they do, does not have a representative from their world."

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