Former director: Don’t appoint GOP ‘party hack’ to head CBO

Republicans shouldn’t appoint a “party hack” to head the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) next year, a former director of the agency warned Tuesday. 

In an op-ed for Bloomberg View, former CBO and Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag urged Republicans to reappoint current CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf. 

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“One of the strongest signals the new congressional leadership could send that it is indeed determined to govern responsibly would be to reappoint Elmendorf,” Orszag writes. “The CBO’s independence, analytical prowess and respected role in policy-making would continue for four more years.”

Orszag said there are rumors that Republican leaders might appoint “someone who is more an advocate than an analyst.”

“That would be a disaster for the organization. And it would show that the commitment to governing articulated by House Speaker John Boehner [R-Ohio] and soon-to-be-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] goes only so far,” Orszag argued.

“If Elmendorf is not re-appointed, the next director should at least be someone respected for his or her analytical skills, knowledge of policy and independence.”

Boehner and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who will become the upper chamber’s president pro tempore, would jointly appoint the CBO chief.

In August, Elmendorf declined to comment on his future. His four-year term expires in January. He was first appointed in January 2009, succeeding Orszag, who also served as CBO director during the final two years of George W. Bush's presidency.