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Jack Lew to Be Nominated As OMB Director

Jack Lew, a former OMB Director in the Clinton Administration and currently a top deputy to Hillary Clinton at the State Department, has been nominated by the President moments ago to replace Peter Orszag as the current OMB Director.

Lew served as OMB Director from 1998 to 2001. Here’s President Obama’s statement:

“The experience and good judgment Jack has acquired throughout his impressive career in the public and private sector will be an extraordinary asset to this administration’s efforts to cut down the deficit and put our nation back on a fiscally responsible path,” President Obama said in a statement. “As the budget director who left the next administration a $237 billion surplus when he worked for President Clinton, I have no doubt that Jack has proven himself equal to this extraordinary task. I am grateful he has agreed to serve in this critical role, and I look forward to working with him in the weeks and months ahead.”

Lew had the benefit of a tech boom and certainly left at the right time to maximize his record. Jon Cohn writes about him:

Lew’s politics aren’t immediately apparent, at least to me, except that he’s a lifelong Democrat who, at 12, campaigned for Eugene McCarthy and, at 23, started working for legendary House Speaker Tip O’Neill. Also, during his stint at OMB, Lew reportedly fought to reinstate welfare benefits for legal immigrants.

But if you read the clips or talk to Democratic Party insiders, you’ll learn that Lew is popular, even with some Republicans. Colleagues, present and former, praise his smarts, work ethic, and selflessness. They say he’s the kind of person who cares more about getting things done than getting credit for them, a quality the president is said to value very highly. (Orszag’s near-celebrity status didn’t always sit well with colleagues, although I have no idea whether the president himself cared.)

Sounds like a main asset for Lew is the fact that he’s already won confirmation to his State Department job from this Congress.

I am also inclined to mention this: Lew was previously the chief operating officer at Citi Alternative Investments, an investment unit of Citigroup, and he sits on the board of the Hamilton Project. Then again, he was also an aide to Bella Abzug and the senior domestic policy adviser to Tip O’Neill.

I wouldn’t expect too big a change from Orszag here.

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David Dayen

David Dayen