Ahhh… After a noticeable lack of any mention of fiscal responsibility over the past few days (I was trying not to “look”), a return to it with today’s announcement of Peter Orszag as the Obama Administration’s budget director. From President-elect Obama’s remarks:
As I said yesterday, the economic crisis we face demands that we invest immediately in a series of measures that will help save or create two and a half million jobs and put tax cuts in the pockets of the hard-pressed middle class. Many of those new jobs will come in areas such as energy independence, technology, and health care modernization that will strengthen our economy for the future.
But if we’re going to make the investments we need, we must also be willing to shed the spending we don’t. In these challenging times, when we are facing both rising deficits and a sinking economy, budget reform is not an option. It is an imperative. We cannot sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars on programs that have outlived their usefulness, or exist solely because of the power of a politician, lobbyist, or interest group. We simply cannot afford it.
This isn’t about big government or small government. It’s about building a smarter government that focuses on what works. That is why I will ask my team to think anew and act anew to meet our new challenges. We will go through our federal budget — page by page, line by line — eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way.
More later when I can find a transcript from the Q&A.
UPDATE (8 pm): Can’t find a transcript of the Q&A part of the press conference, but I did want to share with you Peter’s last blog post on the CBO Director’s Blog. Having worked at CBO for five years in the mid-to-late 1990s, and with many friends still there, I can vouch for this (favorite) part of Peter’s “last post”:
Perhaps most fundamentally, CBO is a reflection of the smart and hard-working but also warm and wonderful people who work here. (If you find it hard to believe that budget analysts and economists can be warm and wonderful, please just take my word for it.)
I wonder if the blog will go on without Peter–if part of the required skill set for the new CBO director is the ability to blog about budget issues, or if CBO might carve out that duty from the director’s job and create a new ”CBO Blogger” position. I might apply then. Not for the director’s job; I mean for the blogger’s job.