The job will look familiar, but when Jack Lew takes over as director of the Office of Management and Budget the challenges will look a whole lot more daunting than when he held the post during the last two years of the Bill Clinton administration.
Back then, Lew was managing a budget with sizable surpluses; now, thanks to big tax cuts, two wars and a severe recession, the feds are trillions in the red, with no relief in sight and growing anxiety about what the spiraling deficit will mean for the American economic future. Lew will also find himself caught between economists who say the deficit is the biggest threat to the economy – and those who argue that only more government spending can ensure continuing recovery from the Great Recession.
Lew is now serving as deputy secretary of state for management, but the administration apparently needed his skills more desperately at OMB.
Lew is a onetime staffer for former House Speaker Tip O’Neill, and he’s been involved in the Jewish communal world off and on for years, including a stint as founding director of the Center for Middle East Research in the early 1990s.
The Orthodox Union’s Nathan Diament noted in his blog that “Jack Lew is also a longtime member of the Orthodox Union community – having been an active member of Congregation Beth Shalom of Potomac and the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.”
It’ll be fascinating to see how he tries to kosher a budget that’s giving a lot of economists sleepless nights.