Lew's lesson to Georgetown grads: Follow Reagan

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Georgetown public policy graduates on Thursday to follow the model of former President Ronald Reagan and former Democratic Speaker Tip O'Neill in an era of partisan politics.

Lew, a Georgetown Law graduate, recalled spending his days as an O'Neill staffer during the Reagan administration, which he thought at the time was "the most partisan era ever."

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He said there were times when "it felt as if the Speaker had lost control of the House."

"[But] The thing about President Reagan and Speaker O’Neill was that they could get along with each other despite vastly different economic philosophies and world views," Lew said at The Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy commencement.

As the nation prepares for midterm elections, Lew said Reagan and O'Neill's lessons in leadership still apply today.

"The American people with all their different views expect and deserve a government that can do better," Lew said. "When the American people choose a divided government, they expect us to work out our differences."

His other advice to grads? Ignore the television.

"I imagine some of you are not so sure about government service. One need only turn on the television to see shows like 'Veep,' 'Scandal' and 'House of Cards,' " Lew said. "In real life, gridlock and partisan fights, more than personal scandal, have contributed to a loss of faith and a rise in distrust."

Lew concluded his remarks at the graduation for the inaugural class of Georgetown's public policy school saying: "Being first, having the courage to stand out and do something that has never been done before, is part of leadership, too."