As director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Orszag is charged with a seemingly impossible task: Figure out how to rein in the more than $3.5 trillion federal budget as the country tries to spend its way out of a fiscal mess.
The country will get a glimpse of Orszag's handiwork next week when President Obama presents Congress with an outline of his fiscal year 2010 budget request.
Roughly two-thirds of the federal budget -- about $2 trillion in 2008 -- is considered mandatory spending. That's money that Uncle Sam has committed to pay out in entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, in interest owed on the national debt, and on other programs for which budget authority is written in stone.
The other third -- about $1 trillion -- is considered discretionary spending. That's money Congress decides on annually through appropriations bills. But even here lawmakers don't have as much flexibility as the word "discretionary" implies. Usually more than half is spent on security efforts such as defense.
My thoughts: While the numbers are shocking, they will likly be considered "small" by the time Obama leaves office.