Peter Orzsag, the former White House budget director, says life as an investment banker at Citi is “so far so good.”
His road to cliche-land was paved after a brief encounter with Bob Rubin, wherein he seized a moment of opportunity, he explains to NYMag.
“They let me come to a Cabinet-level meeting, for reasons I didn’t fully understand. Rubin was secretary of Treasury. He made a small maths mistake, and on the way out the door, I wrote a note that said, ‘It was a billion, not a million.’ I handed it to him, and he shoved it into his briefcase. At my desk 10 days later, my phone rings, and it was the operator on the line saying, ‘Will you please hold for the secretary of the Treasury?’ He was in Europe, and he called just to say I was right. Which was remarkable.”
Now Orszag is employed at Citi and living the sweet life. His meal of choice: a grilled-chicken salad. Woman of choice: ABC News correspondent Bianna Golodryga, after impregnating and ditching Claire Milonas, a Greek shipping heiress. Wardrobe: at the White House, he wore cowboy boots under his navy suits (is that flying with Vikram Pandit at Citi? We don’t know.)
Orszag now lives in a “big new apartment downtown with his wife (Golodryga, pictured).
Here’s what his new job at Citi entails:
- Business trip(s) to London to meet with Citi’s managing directors and president and chief operating officer John Havens
As for the flack he’s inevitably getting for becoming a cliche, he explains how he made the “fundamental choice” about his career like this:
“Look, I faced a fundamental choice. I could have been totally comfortable doing something easy, going back to academe or a think tank, giving speeches, having a cushy consulting thing—ironically, which would have played off my White House experience much more than what I chose to do. Or I could have done something new, which would be harder.”
Here’s how other people explain it, according to NYMag:
Orszag quit over principle, telling friends he was upset by Washington’s refusal to get serious about the deficit. A less favourable view is that Orszag was marginalized by Emanuel and David Axelrod.
[He “clashed” with Larry Summers, who “wasn’t focused on the long-term debt crisis.”] “Peter was somebody who could be a foil to Larry. He suffered from a small case of Summers-itis, where you display your brilliance,” one budget-policy wonk who has worked with both men explains.
“He was accused of leaking and being disloyal,” said one Democrat close to the players. “The press loved Peter, which was part of the reason why the White House didn’t love him.”
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