Obama chooses Lew for top job at OMB

Jacob Lew, the last White House budget director to oversee a budget surplus, will be nominated to return to his old post as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), President Obama announced Tuesday.


Lew previously served as OMB director in the Clinton administration and is the only White House budget director in history to oversee surpluses for three consecutive years. His skills at balancing the budget will be put to the test in the Obama administration, which is grappling with massive deficits.

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Lew is a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. 
“For the past year and a half, [Lew] has been successful at overseeing the State Department’s extremely complex and challenging budget as deputy secretary of State for management and resources,” Obama said. “I was actually worried that Hillary would not let him go.



“I had to trade a number of No. 1 draft picks to get Jack back at OMB,” Obama added.

If confirmed by the Senate, Lew would have to grapple with deficits that are expected by the Congressional Budget Office to average nearly $1 trillion over the next decade.


Lew would replace OMB Director Peter Orszag, who on July 30 will become the first Obama Cabinet member to leave his post.

The nomination of Lew to the Cabinet was already drawing strong bipartisan support Tuesday. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said Lew was “exceptional, outstanding in any way.”



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Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.), the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said Lew would be confirmed easily.



“He’s a solid, thoughtful guy and he knows how the budget process works,” Gregg said. Gregg praised Lew even as he blasted Democrats in Congress for failing to create a traditional budget resolution that would chart a path to sustainable deficits. 



Gregg said Lew will have a tough task ahead of him.



“He’s going to be the guy who has to say, ‘The emperor has no clothes,’ if he’s going to do the job right,” Gregg said.



Lew was confirmed to be deputy secretary of State for management and resources in January 2009 on a Senate voice vote. 



“With his experience, mastery of the budget process and passion for public service, Jack Lew is an individual especially qualified to serve the president and the American people during these challenging economic times,” Orszag said in a statement Tuesday. “I congratulate Jack on his selection, and will do what I can to support him, the economic team and the president as they work to put our country on a sustainable fiscal path.”

This story was originally posted at 11:11 a.m. and updated at 8:12 p.m.