Economist Phillip Swagel Named Next CBO director

Economist Phillip Swagel Named Next CBO director

Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Lawmakers have named Phillip Swagel, an economist at the University of Maryland and former Treasury official under President George W. Bush, as the next director of the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan office that advises Congress on the projected costs of legislation.

Swagel will begin his term on June 3, succeeding Keith Hall, who has continued to head the agency temporarily since his four-year term officially ended in January. Swagel is currently a professor of International Economic Policy at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and a nonresident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank. He served as assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy from 2006 to 2009 and was also chief of staff and a senior economist on the White House Council of Economic Advisers under Bush. His term at CBO is set to end January 3, 2023.

“Dr. Swagel’s strong academic and government experience, as well as his knowledge and expertise in economic forecasting will serve him well as he leads CBO,” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. “I am confident he will lead the agency with integrity and maintain the office’s reputation for non-partisan analysis. I would also like to thank Dr. Hall for his years of dedicated service to Congress and wish him well.”

Enzi reportedly led the way in choosing Swagel under an informal arrangement in which the primary role alternates between the House and Senate Budget chairs.

Roll Call’s Paul M. Krawzak, who first reported Swagel’s appointment, notes that Hall had expressed a desire to stay on for another term, but Enzi chose to replace him, citing a source familiar with the discussions. “The Wyoming Republican valued transparency and disclosure at the CBO, something Hall actively tried to promote during his tenure at the agency,” Krawzak writes. “Nonetheless, over time Enzi had grown dissatisfied with the level of communication and updates he was getting from the CBO under Hall’s leadership, according to the source.”

Republicans have also been critical of the agency for some of its recent projections, including findings that GOP proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would result in millions more Americans being uninsured and estimates that the 2017 tax overhaul would add well over $1 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.