President Barack Obama tapped Jack Lew, who helped shape the Clintons' health overhaul plan in the early 1990s, to help trim the nation's more than $1.5 trillion budget deficit.
Obama wants Clinton-era director for OMB
If confirmed, Lew would replace outgoing Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, who earned a reputation as a health policy wonk while playing a pivotal role in helping to pass Obama's reform platform.
As OMB director during President Bill Clinton's presidency, Lew helped to bolster the nation's fiscal standing, eventually building a $236 billion surplus. But the budget surplus has long since drained, leaving elected officials to manage an ever-growing national deficit. Lew also served on the board of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Most recently, he served as the deputy secretary of state for management and resources.
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), the senior Republican on the Budget Committee, praised the nomination but said the new health reform law would complicate any effort to balance the budget. “(The) problem is, he's going into a job where the numbers don't meet,” Gregg said. “He's going to be honest about the numbers, they're in serious trouble. And he's going to be the guy who has to say that the emperor has no clothes.”
While Gregg predicted an easy confirmation process, Republican anger over another one of Obama's high-profile nominees could throw a wrench into the process.
Many GOP members and some Democrats remain furious over the way Donald Berwick took the top post at the CMS. Obama used what's known as a “recess appointment” to skirt a congressional hearing in the Senate, and at least one senior Republican aide said that the Berwick appointment “could have aftershocks” for other presidential picks.
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