Roll Call speculates
about who the next director of the Congressional Budget Office might be. This is a key decision facing the newly elected GOP-controlled Congress. After giving a talk at CBO on Thursday and participating in its Academic Advisers Panel on Friday, I am reminded how impressive the CBO staff is and how important the institution is to the policy process. (FYI, my own affiliation with CBO dates back to the summer of 1978, when I was an intern there.)
So who should the next CBO director be? There are a lot of reputable economists on the Roll Call
list. Many are friends of mine. All things considered, however, I believe there is a clear choice: Doug Elmendorf.
Someone recently said to me that the CBO director is not really a player in the political game. He is more like the referee. That analogy sheds light on why Doug is the right person for the job. What do you want in a good referee? Competence and impartiality. Doug has demonstrated both. He is a superb economist and, over the past six years as CBO director, has shown himself to be scrupulously non-partisan.
I understand that GOP leaders may be tempted to put their own stamp on the Congressional Budget Office. But sometimes the benefits of continuity transcend ideology and political affiliation. Ronald Reagan reappointed Paul Volcker, and Barack Obama reappointed Ben Bernanke, despite the fact that both Fed chairs were initially appointed by a president of the other party. In the same spirit, I would encourage the GOP congressional leaders to reappoint Doug Elmendorf as CBO director.