Jews in political news: Jack Lew, Steve Israel on the hotseat

 After one of those “holds” that has nothing to do with the person being considered for high office, the Senate has confirmed Jacob “Jack” Lew as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Lew, who is now deputy secretary of state, held the OMB job at the end of the Clinton administration.

Lew has always struck me as one of the smartest people in Jewish/public life, which leads to this question: if he’s so smart, why does he want this thankless job?

I mean, think about it: everybody wants the deficit cut, but keep your bloody hands off my pet programs, or programs favored by important constituent groups or campaign contributors.

Democrats and Republicans won’t agree on anything in the next Congress, except the need to do as much damage to the other party as possible. The Republicans never met a defense spending program or tax cut they didn’t like – which real deficit reduction next to impossible, unless you want to junk Medicare, Medicaid and maybe Social Security as well. The Democrats can’t agree amongst themselves even on simple things, like extending the Bush era tax cuts, and most don’t have the backbone to talk about cutting the military.

Everybody wants something for nothing even as they squawk about big government and deficit spending, and the only real debate taking place is the debate about how best to blame the other party.

It’s a good thing Lew is a serious Jew; maybe he can apply prayer to the budget mess we’ve created, since it’s hard to think how practical, bipartisan politics will do the trick. Good luck, Jack, you’re going to need it.

In other Jewish politics news, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has selected a Jewish congressman as head of the House Democratic Campaign Committee.

Talk about tough jobs: that puts Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) right in the middle of Democratic efforts to reverse the 2010 electoral rout.

“Congressman Israel knows how to win in tough districts,” Pelosi said in a statement. “He replaced a formidable Republican incumbent in 2000 and has worked every day since then to strengthen Democrats across the country.”

He’s also a champion fundraiser, which won’t hurt.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.