It has been widely reported this week that President Obama will nominate Jack Lew today for Secretary of the Treasury, replacing Timothy Geithner, expected to step down next month. It takes a special kind of crazy only found in Washington DC for someone who has failed so spectacularly to be nominated to head up our nation’s treasury (see also: Geithner, Timothy). After all, Lew is the gentleman who, as the head of the Office of Management and Budget, was the architect of the Obama budgets that famously received zero votes in the Senate in 2011 and 2012 – not even his Democrat allies thought his bugets were realistic.
According to CBS News,
Lew is Mr. Obama’s current chief of staff but has served in numerous government roles. Prior to his current post, which has given him direct access to the president, the 57-year-old was the director of the Office of Management and Budget. In that position he worked closely with Congress and federal agencies to oversee the budget of the entire federal government. That is a position he also held during the Clinton administration from 1998 to 2001. In the 1980s he was a senior adviser for former House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, D-Mass., and worked with former President Reagan’s White House on Social Security reform and tax reform. And between his Clinton and Obama administration stints, he worked in the private sector, including three years as a hedge fund manager for Citigroup.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is vowing to fight this nomination. Yesterday, The Hill reported that he has prepared a statement saying “Jack Lew must never be Secretary of Treasury.”
Sessions expects that the Lew nomination will fail in the Senate, an aide said.
The senator says Lew misrepresented Obama’s 2012 budget by claiming that it did not add to the debt.
“His testimony before the Senate Budget Committee less than two years ago was so outrageous and false that it alone disqualifies,” according to the Sessions’ statement, which was obtained by The Hill in advance.
Sessions says in his statement that Lew, as the president’s budget director told Congress the budget “would not add to the debt of the United States.
Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, has continually grilled Lew on his testimony regarding budget proposals. In February 2011, Sessions nailed Lew for statements on CNN that the budget doesn’t add to the debt and actually balances eventually – that is, if you don’t count interest payments on our public debt as a budget expenditure.
He continues, showing how interest payments will dwarf the expenditures of 15 federal agencies combined, and chastising Lew for “primary balance theory”:
Only in DC could you advance a theory with a straight face that says, in essence, our budget balances if you pick and choose which budget expenditures you’re going to count, and ignore the rest. That’s like saying, “Once my car gets repoed, my household budget is going to be nothing but smooth sailing.”
As if that weren’t enough, Jack Lew has repeatedly misled the American public by saying that the Senate needs 60 votes to pass a budget:
That’s either gross incompetence or a deliberate falsehood. This implies that budgets can be filibustered; under Senate rules, that is not true. The former OMB director should be aware that budgets are ‘privileged’, meaning they can pass with a simple majority and not subject to a filibuster.
In case you think he misspoke, he repeats the statement again:
It’s difficult to believe that someone who’s been in DC since he was a staffer for Tip O’Neill wouldn’t know the rules of the Senate. Of course we’ve come to expect an administration full of prevaricators, so Lew’s expected nomination would be par for the course. Many conservatives are advocates of a return to zero-based budgeting as a partial solution to our addiction to spending. My hope is that, as a short term goal, we can at least aspire to overcome zero-vote budgeting.