Orszag to resign as White House budget director, source says

By Michael D. Shear and Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 22, 2010; A04

White House budget director Peter Orszag has decided to leave the Obama administration, likely in the next few weeks, a Democrat familiar with his plans said Monday night. His departure would make him the first member of President Obama's Cabinet to leave the White House.

As head of the Office of Management and Budget, Orszag has been one of Obama's top lieutenants on two of the president's signature legislative efforts: the stimulus bill, passed early in the administration, and the health care overhaul passed this year.

He also generated some headlines of his own, with the news that he had fathered a child with ex-girlfriend Claire Milonas, a Greek shipping heiress, and that he had become engaged to ABC News reporter Bianna Golodryga. Their wedding is planned for September.

The exact timing of when Orszag would leave the administration remained unclear, the Democrat said, speaking on condition of the anonymity to avoid souring relations with administration officials. Orszag's plans to quit have been rumored for months in Washington, particularly once he wrapped up budget planning for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

OMB spokesman Kenneth S. Baer said late Monday that "Peter's focused on his work, not on Washington speculation."

Many past budget directors have left the job after two years, and news of Orszag's wedding plans only increased speculation about whether he would stay on. Bloomberg News first reported Monday night on his plans.

An administration official suggested privately that Orszag might delay his departure until the OMB issues its "mid-session review," or the revised estimates of budget receipts, outlays and budget authority for fiscal 2010 to 2020. That review is due July 15.

Orszag, 41, has been at the center of some of the most fierce and contentious Washington debates for more than three years: He was head of the Congressional Budget Office for two years under President George W. Bush before joining the Obama administration.

The White House is preparing the administration's next budget, which would necessitate a speedier timetable for nominating a replacement at the OMB. The position requires Senate confirmation, which could spark a confrontation with Republicans over the administration's economic policies.

Those who have been mentioned as a possible successor to Orszag include Gene Sperling, a senior adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner who was a top economic official during President Bill Clinton's administration; Laura Tyson, chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Clinton; Rob Nabors, who was deputy OMB director before moving over to the White House; and Jeffrey Liebman, acting deputy OMB director.

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