Orszag to head CBO

Senior Democrats have tapped Brookings Institution economist Peter Orszag as the next Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director, passing over acting director Donald Marron.

CBO directors are technically appointed by the House Speaker or president pro tem of the Senate, but traditionally named according to recommendations from Budget Committee chairmen. New Senate budget chief Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who had reportedly settled on three finalists for the post, said in a statement that Orszag understands the importance of CBO’s nonpartisan role as it scores the fiscal impact of legislative proposals.

“He is the right person to take the helm of CBO at this critical time,” Conrad said. He consulted with incoming House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.), newly minted House Budget ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and outgoing Senate budget chairman Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) before choosing between the finalists: Orszag, Marron and, reportedly, Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute.

“In choosing Mr. Orszag, Senator Conrad should be commended not only for his selection, but also for a thorough and bipartisan selection process,” Gregg said in his statement.

Orszag is now a senior fellow and deputy director of economic studies at Brookings. He previously served under former President Clinton as director of the National Economic Council and senior member of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Orszag and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Peter Diamond collaborated in 2004 on a fix for Social Security’s mushrooming shortfall.