Orszag’s role as Director of the OMB was suggested by President Obama when he was putting together his transitional cabinet. It was then confirmed by the Senate. Obama chose Orszag due to his long history of economic roles within the government and his outstanding academic and professional record. Orszag’s likeable personality, popularity, obvious enthusiasm and ambition would also have been a factor in Obama’s decision.
Another reason for Obama’s choice of Orszag is almost certain to have been Orszag’s focus on health care during his time at the Congressional Budget Office. He spend a lot of time analyzing the effects of health care reform and drawing up ideas over how best to implement it.
Orszag and Obama first met early in Obama’s Senate career, while Orszag was working at the CBO. They were in agreement over several issues, especially health care and government spending cuts. During the transitional phase between Obama’s election and inauguration, Obama and Orszag spent a lot of time working together on drawing up budgets and economic policy plans. They met several times a week, with Orszag explaining the options to the president and taking his suggestions.
When Orszag was profiled in the media early in his time in this role, much was made of his direct line to the President on his desk, a perk that came with the role. However they also stated that Orszag was reluctant to use it. Many reports also suggested that Orszag was something of a ‘presidential favorite’.
Peter Orszag and President Obama have clearly had a good working relationship based on respect and agreement over political and economic issues. Orszag’s areas of expertise were ones that Obama had pledged to concentrate on during his election campaign, and so he obviously felt that Orszag was going to be a valuable member of his cabinet. The two of them worked closely together, and Obama was clearly pleased with the success of Orszag’s policy ideas.