Next OMB Director Had Better Enjoy Being Hated

That's Chris Beam's smart take on whomever replaces budget director Peter Orszag. Just as health care wonkery dominated Orszag's time in the hot seat, deficit reduction agonizing will dominate the next two years of the Obama administration:

It's not that deficit reduction hasn't been on the administration's to-do list. It just hasn't been a priority. President Obama first had to tackle the financial crisis, which required a deficit-ballooning stimulus package. We'll get to deficit reduction, the thinking went. Let's just fix this crisis thing first. Health care reform included elements of deficit reduction--nearly every presidential speech mentioned "bending the cost curve"--but balancing the budget wasn't its main goal.

The recession is by no means over. But every step toward recovery brings the tough choices of budget balancing that much closer. Even if Orszag's successor doesn't preside over gigantic federal cutbacks, he'll at least have to formulate a game plan. "There's no question that the single biggest issue on the plate of the OMB director is going to be addressing the long-term deficit situation," says Michael Ettlinger, an economic policy expert at the Center for American Progress.

Read the full story at Slate.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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