Douglas W. Elmendorf

Douglas W. Elmendorf
Douglas W. Elmendorf
As the Director of CBO, Elmendorf oversees the agency’s work in providing objective, insightful, timely, and clearly presented information about budget and economic issues.
8th Director of the Congressional Budget Office
Assumed office
January 22, 2009
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Peter R. Orszag
Personal details
Alma mater Princeton University, A.B.
Harvard University, A.M., Ph.D.

Douglas W. Elmendorf (born 1961)[1] is an American economist who is currently the Director of the Congressional Budget Office under Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner.[2] He was a Brookings Institution senior fellow from 2007 to 2009, and was a director of the Hamilton Project at Brookings.[3] Joining the Congressional Budget Office in late December 2008, Elmendorf is responsible for providing estimates of the cost of legislation on the federal budget.[4]




Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, Elmendorf spent his early career as an academic and educator. He went to Princeton University as an undergraduate, studying economics, and then headed to Harvard University to obtain his master’s and Ph.D in the same subject. After graduating in 1989, he stayed at Harvard for five years, working closely with economics professor Martin Feldstein, the director of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan.

Career Work

In 1993, Elmendorf moved to public life, working for the Congressional Budget Office office for the first time. He spent a year as an associate analyst before joining full-time in 1994 as a principal analyst where Elmendorf focused on health-care issues and the economic effects of budget deficits. Working under Director Robert D. Reischauer, Elmendorf worked on a team that concluded President Bill Clinton's health reform package would cost much more than originally thought. This analysis helped cripple Clinton's attempt to reform health care.[5]

Elmendorf only stayed a year at the CBO as a principal analyst before heading to the Federal Reserve Board as an economist while Alan Greenspan headed it. In 1998, his travels through the financial departments of the federal government continued, as Elmendorf moved to the Council of Economic Advisers, working as a senior economist under Director Janet Yellen. After staying at the CEA for a year, Elmendorf then joined the United States Treasury Department as deputy assistant secretary for economic policy, working under Clinton Treasury Secretary of the United States Lawrence Summers. When George W. Bush took office, Elmendorf moved back to the Fed as a senior economist and in 2002, he got a promotion to chief of the macroeconomics analysis team, leading a group of 30 economists and researchers as they forecasted inflation rates and labor markets.[6]

In 2007, Elmendorf began working for the well-known economic think-tank the Brookings Institution, co-editing the twice-yearly publication “Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.”[6] In 2008, Jason Furman, the director of the Brookings’ group known as the Hamilton Project left to join the Obama campaign. Elmendorf replaced him as director of the Project, a forum for economic policy discussion that was created by Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin — an advocate of free trade and a small deficit.[4]

Testifying before the House Budget Committee in June 2011 Director Elmendorf said that "uncertainty about federal policy is diminishing household and business spending and that uncertainty covers a whole set of policies: It covers tax policy, it covers regulatory policy and it covers health policy." He noted that New figures released 30 June 2011 by the CBO show debt rising to 190 percent of the gross domestic product by 2035. Economists have warned that exceeding 90 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) is a prescription for a debt crisis. "The current level of debt is reducing our output, our incomes relative to what would be the case if we had a lower level of debt, leaving aside the effects of this particular recession, which complicate that," Elmendorf said. As of 2011 debt to GDP levels are 70%.[7]

In August 2011 the CBO noted a dismal outlook of the nation’s budget and economy, crystallizing the challenges Congress faces this fall in reducing deficits and increasing employment. CBO projects a $1.28 trillion deficit for the fiscal year, and total deficits over the next 10 years of $3.5 trillion. Gross federal debt is expected to rise from $14.8 trillion this year to $21.3 trillion in 2021, CBO said. “A great deal of the pain of this economic downturn still lies ahead of us,” Director Elmendorf said at a Wednesday press conference after the report’s release. He said the debt-ceiling deal “makes a real difference, so I guess that’s good news.” He then added: “I think the challenges that remain are very large.”[8]


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