President Obama on Tuesday tapped as his new budget director Jacob J. “Jack” Lew, the same man who oversaw balanced budgets under President Clinton in the late 1990s.
“If there was a hall of fame for budget directors, then Jack Lew surely would have earned a place,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Obama touted Mr. Lew’s track record as director of the Office of Management and Budget under Mr. Clinton, noting that he has been the only budget director in history to preside over a surplus for three consecutive years.
“Jack Lew is somebody who has proven himself already,” the president told reporters in the White House’s Diplomatic Room.
The OMB director is a cabinet-level appointment, and serves as the traffic cop for much of the administrative duties of the White House, including issuing statements of policy on legislation and producing the president’s annual budget submission to Congress.
Mr. Lew would replace Peter R. Orszag, who is leaving as budget director at the end of this month.
Mr. Lew currently serves as a deputy secretary of state. To become OMB director will require Senate confirmation. The last time he won the job, in 1998, the Senate confirmed him by voice vote.
In tapping Mr. Lew, Mr. Obama is hoping to recapture some of the magic of the late 1990s when Republican in Congress worked with Mr. Clinton to strike a balanced budget deal in 1997, then followed through, producing three straight budgets in balance.
In 2000, Mr. Lew was a key voice late in the Clinton administration warning against assuming large surpluses for the sake of writing bigger tax cuts — a policy President George W. Bush pursued, and which has since become a heated debating point.