Politics

Ex-Obama budget chief: Government's coronavirus assistance needs oversight to avoid backlash

Key Points
  • The U.S. government's sprawling policy response to the coronavirus pandemic needs proper oversight, President Barack Obama's former budget chief said Thursday. 
  • "I think the more oversight the better, in part because we really do need to get money out the door fast," Peter Orszag said on CNBC's "Closing Bell."
  • "Oversight doesn't necessarily impede speed here," he said. 
VIDEO0:0100:01
'A Humpty Dumpty moment: If it breaks, will be hard to put back together,' says Orszag

The U.S. government's sprawling policy response to the coronavirus pandemic is necessary, but so too is proper oversight of the new programs, President Barack Obama's former budget chief said Thursday. 

"I think the more oversight the better, in part because we really do need to get money out the door fast," Peter Orszag said on CNBC's "Closing Bell." "If you don't have any oversight at all, you're just asking for trouble. There will be more fraud than is necessary." 

Orszag, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget, said he does not think properly administered oversight will create bureaucratic inefficiencies that make it harder to execute the programs. 

"Oversight doesn't necessarily impede speed here," said Orszag, now CEO of financial advisory at Lazard

"In fact, what I would say is there is a risk to too little oversight because it will generate more backlash when things go wrong and therefore undermine the ability to do more later when we need it," he added. 

Orszag said he thought the government's policy response has been appropriate in scale, given the wide-ranging challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

"I think it's great that we're experimenting with lots of different programs. There's like an alphabet soup that's forming," he said, referencing both the new small business loan program and the Federal Reserve's latest efforts, a total of $2.3 trillion in loans to help businesses and municipalities.

"That's all great, because we are in a moment where that kind of aggressive action is absolutely warranted, but that doesn't mean you don't need any oversight," he said.