Jacob "Jack" Lew is the current White House Chief of Staff. Before that, he served as the director of the the president's Office of Management and Budget (OMB). During his tenure there, the president released an astonishingly reckless budget proposal that went down in unanimous flames on Capitol Hill. Lew's term at OMB was smack dab in the middle of America's dysfunctional budget-free bender, which is now approaching its fourth consecutive year. He presided over the ugly continuing resolution fight in the spring of 2011, as well as the bruising debt ceiling brawl that summer. And now, he's failing upwards to the cabinet secretary position being vacated by Timothy Geithner:
President Barack Obama plans to name White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew tomorrow as his choice for Treasury secretary, replacing Timothy F. Geithner, a person familiar with the process said. Lew, 57, who also has served as director of the Office of Management and Budget, has been offered the Treasury post by Obama, according to the person, who asked for anonymity to discuss personnel matters. Geithner, 51, the only remaining member of Obama’s original economic team, has told White House officials he doesn’t want to serve in a second term and intends to leave the job by the end of the month.
Ed Morrissey notes that Lew is essentially a government careerist lifer -- having spent only a short time in the private sector. When he's been confronted about his party's ritual budget abdication, Lew has responded in a manner that suggests he's either hopelessly incompetent and ignorant, or a partisan liar:
One can argue over whether a high school civics student should know that budgets are exempt from the possibility of filibuster and only require a simple majority for passage in the United States Senate. One cannot credibly argue that the White House budget director is be unaware of this fact, but that's exactly how he presented things to the American people on national television. He earned a fact-check slap down from the Washington Post for his performance. Lew attended Harvard and Georgetown Law. He's not a stupid man and he knows how Washington works, so it's not a stretch to conclude that he's a serial purveyor of untruths. Two more cases in point: He falsely claimed that the 2011 debt deal's "sequester" was Republicans' idea, and made ludicrously inaccurate assertions about the FY 2012 White House budget he oversaw:
"Our budget will get us, over the next several years, to the point where we can look the American people in the eye and say we're not adding to the debt anymore; we're spending money that we have each year, and then we can work on bringing down our national debt."
Even left-leaning Politifact had no choice but to rate this claim "false." Neither that budget nor Obama's subsequent offering ever comes remotely close to achieving primary balance, let alone doing anything to reduce the national debt. Indeed, it was projected to add over $7 trillion to the pile. (The closest Obama's FY 2013 budget came to balancing over the next decade -- even with rosy growth and revenue projections -- was a $617 billion deficit in 2017). Its 2012 predecessor was so reckless that even some liberals felt compelled to criticize it, prompting Lew's outright lie. Unlike Geithner, Lew doesn't appear to have any personal tax problems in his past, but that'll be little consolation when he's juggling trillion dollar coins in his office at the Treasury. Our national budget debacle is in some measure his handiwork and his legacy, so naturally he's being promoted to a position of even greater authority. Elections have consequences. This is one of them.