Tag Archives: The President

Remarks by the President in Selection of Jack Lew to be Director of OMB

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Diplomatic Reception Room

12:18 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Before I begin, I just want to note a breakthrough that we’ve had on our efforts to pass the most comprehensive reform of Wall Street since the Great Depression.  Three Republican senators have put politics and partisanship aside to support this reform, and I’m grateful for their decision, as well as all the Democrats who’ve worked so hard to make this reform a reality — particularly Chairman Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank.

What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again.  This reform will prevent that from happening.  It will prevent a financial crisis like this from happening again by protecting consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders.  It will ensure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes.  And it will end an era of irresponsibility that led to the loss of eight million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.  This reform is good for families; it’s good for businesses; it’s good for the entire economy.  And I urge the Senate to act quickly so that I can sign it into law next week.

Now, as we finish our work on Wall Street reform, we’re also mindful that we’ve got significant work to do when it comes to reforming our government and reducing our deficit.  As part of that work, today I am proud to announce the nomination of Jack Lew to be our nation’s next Director of Office of Management and Budget — or OMB.

Before telling you a little bit about Jack, I just want to say a few words about the man that he will be replacing at the helm of OMB, and that’s Mr. Peter Orszag.  A few weeks ago, Peter told me that after more than a year and a half of tireless, around-the-clock service in what is one of the toughest jobs around, Peter was ready to move on to a job that offers a little more sanity and fewer line items.

Putting a budget together for the entire federal government is an enormously difficult task, no matter what the state of the economy, but Peter’s job was even tougher.  When we walked through the doors of the White House, we not only faced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we also faced a $1.3 trillion deficit — a deficit that was caused both by the recession and nearly a decade of not paying for key policies and programs.

In light of these challenges, Peter’s accomplishments as Director of OMB are even more impressive.  He was instrumental in designing and helping us pass an economic plan that prevented a second depression — a plan that is slowly but surely moving us in the right direction again.  Thanks to his innovative ideas and gritty determination, we passed a health insurance reform plan that is not only paid for, but will significantly lower the cost of health care as well as our deficit over the next several decades.  In fact, a recent report by independent experts say this reform will cut the deficit even more than the Congressional Budget Office first estimated.

Peter has also helped us single out more than a hundred programs for elimination that have outlived their purposes, and made hard decisions that will save tens of billions of dollars.  And he helped draft a budget for next year that freezes all discretionary government spending outside of national security for three years — something that was never enacted in the prior administration.  It’s a budget that would reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade, which is more than any other budget in a decade.  And I expect that freeze to become a reality next year.

Peter also shares my view that the long-running debate between big government and small government misses the point; it isn’t relevant to today’s challenges.  The real debate is about how we make government smarter, more effective, and more efficient in the 21st century.  It’s easy for any institution to get in the habit of doing things the way they’ve always been done.  We in government can’t afford that habit — not only because it wastes taxpayer dollars, but because it erodes people’s belief that their government can actually work for them.

Over the last year and a half we’ve been able to employ new technology to make government more responsive and customer-friendly — the same way that so many businesses have used technology to make better products and provide better services.

As a result of these efforts, today we’re creating a single electronic medical record for our men and women in uniform that will follow them from the day they enlist until the day they are laid to rest.  We’re cutting down the time that it takes to get a patent approved by cutting out unnecessary paperwork and modernizing the process.  We’re working to give people the chance to go online and book an appointment at the Social Security office or check the status of their citizenship application.  We’re cutting waste by getting rid of federal office space that hasn’t been used in years.  We’re closing the IT gap in the federal government, and have created mobile apps that provide nutrition information for your favorite foods or wait times at the airport.  And the examples go on and on.

Now, inertia is a powerful thing.  Constituencies grow around every agency and department with a vested interest in doing things the same way.  And that’s why we have to keep on challenging every aspect of government to rethink its core mission — to make sure we’re pursuing that mission as effectively and efficiently as possible, and to ask if that mission is better achieved by partnering with the civic, faith, and private sector communities.

This is a mission that requires some special leadership.  And Jack Lew is somebody who has proven himself already equal to this extraordinary task.

You know, if there was a fall — if there was a Hall of Fame for budget directors, then Jack Lew surely would have earned a place for his service in that role under President Clinton, when he helped balance the federal budget after years of deficits.  When Jack left that post at the end of the Clinton administration, he handed the next administration a record $236 billion budget surplus.  The day I took office, eight years later, America faced a record $1.3 trillion deficit.

Jack’s challenge over the next few years is to use his extraordinary skill and experience to cut down that deficit and put our nation back on a fiscally responsible path.  And I have the utmost faith in his ability to achieve this goal as a central member of our economic team.

Jack is the only budget director in history to preside over a budget surplus for three consecutive years.  When Jack was deputy director at OMB, he was part of the team that reached a bipartisan agreement to balance the budget for the first time in decades.  He was a principal domestic policy advisor to Tip O’Neill, and worked with him on the bipartisan agreement to reform Social Security in the 1980s.

He was executive vice president at New York University, where he oversaw budget and finances.  And for the past year and a half, he’s been successful in overseeing the State Department’s extremely complex and challenging budget as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources.  I was actually worried that Hillary would not let him go.  I had to trade a number of number-one draft picks — (laughter) — to get Jack back at OMB.

But I am grateful that Hillary agreed to have Jack leave, and I’m even more thrilled that Jack agreed to take on this challenge at this moment.  Jack is going to be an outstanding OMB director.  We know it because he’s been one before.  At a time when so many families are tightening their belts, he’s going to make sure that the government continues to tighten its own.  He’s going to do this while making government more efficient, more responsive to the people it serves.

And, Jack, I am looking forward to working with you on your critical mission.  Thank you so much.  And thanks to Jack’s family, who has been putting up with him in multiple, very difficult jobs over and over again.  We appreciate his service to our country and we appreciate yours as well.

Thank you, everybody.

12:26 P.M. EDT

President Obama to Honor WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury at the White House

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WASHINGTON–On Monday, July 19, President Obama will welcome the WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury to the White House to honor the team’s 2009 championship season.  In conjunction with this event, members of the team will participate in a service project with local area youth during their visit to Washington, D.C.

This continues a tradition begun by President Obama of sports champions serving in the community as part of their visit.  The White House event will be open press.  More details will be released in the next several days.

President Obama Announces His Intent to Nominate Jacob Lew as OMB Director

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WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Jacob J. Lew to serve as Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

President Obama said, “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. 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.”

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individual to a key administration post:

Jacob Lew, Nominee for Director, Office of Management and Budget
Mr. Jack Lew is Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, serving as Chief Operating Officer of the Department. Appointed by President Obama, he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 28, 2009, and sworn in by Secretary Clinton the next day.

Mr. Lew was managing director and chief operating officer of Citi Alternative Investments (CAI) until January 2009. At CAI, he was responsible for operations, technology, finance, human resources, legal and regional coordination. Prior to joining CAI in January 2008, he was managing director and chief operating officer of Citi Global Wealth Management.

From 2001 to 2006, Mr. Lew was executive vice president and chief operating officer of New York University, where he was responsible for budget, finance, and operations. He was also a professor of public administration.

Mr. Lew served in President Clinton’s cabinet as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). From 1998 to 2001, he led the Administration budget team and served as a member of the National Security Council. During his tenure at OMB, the U.S. budget operated at a surplus for three consecutive years. Earlier, Mr. Lew served as OMB’s Deputy Director and was a member of the negotiating team that reached a bi-partisan agreement to balance the budget. As Special Assistant to President Clinton from 1993 to 1994, Mr. Lew helped design Americorps, the national service program.

From 1988 to 1993, Mr. Lew was a partner at the Washington law firm Van Ness, Feldman, specializing in issues related to power plant development.

Mr. Lew began his career in Washington in 1973 as a legislative aide. From 1979 to 1987, he was a principal domestic policy advisor to House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr, where he served at the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee as Assistant Director and then Executive Director. There he was responsible for domestic and economic issues including Social Security, Medicare, budget, tax, trade, appropriations, and energy issues

From 2004 through 2008, Mr. Lew served on the Corporation for National and Community Service Board and chaired its Management, Administration, and Governance Committee. Prior to assuming his current position, he co-chaired the Advisory Board for City Year New York and was on the boards of the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Brookings Institution Hamilton Project and the Tobin Project. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Academy of Social Insurance and of the bar in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Mr. Lew received his A.B. degree magna cum laude from Harvard and his J.D. degree from Georgetown University.

President Obama Expands Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target for Federal Operations

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Washington, DC – President Obama announced today that the Federal Government will reduce greenhouse gas pollution from indirect sources, such as employee travel and commuting, by 13% by 2020.  This commitment expands beyond the Administration’s greenhouse gas reduction target from direct sources set in January, 2010, such as Federal fleets and buildings, by 2020.  Cumulatively, greenhouse gas pollution reductions from Federal government operations will total 101 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the emissions from 235 million barrels of oil.

The reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is called for in President Obama’s Executive Order 13514 on Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, which requires the Federal government to lead by example towards a clean energy economy and reduce, measure and report direct and indirect greenhouse gas pollution.

“Every year, the Federal Government consumes more energy than any other single organization or company in the United States,” said President Obama.  “That energy goes towards lighting and heating government buildings, fueling vehicles and powering federal projects across the country and around the world.  The government has a responsibility to use that energy wisely, to reduce consumption, improve efficiency, use renewable energy, like wind and solar, and cut costs.”

The Federal government is the single largest energy consumer in the US economy. It owns 600,000 vehicles, owns and manages nearly 500,000 buildings, and paid a $24.5 billion utility and fuel bill in 2008.  Meeting these targets will engage the nearly 2 million men and women across the country who are employed by Federal agencies.

In conjunction with this announcement today, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Labor, Martha Johnson, Administrator of the General Services Administration, and Ronald Sims, Deputy Secretary of the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development convened a Clean Energy Economy Forum on Federal leadership in High Performance Sustainable Building.

On October 19, 2009, the White House launched the GreenGov Challenge to ask all Federal and military personnel to share ideas about how the federal community can lead by example, green the government, and meet the goals of President Obama’s Executive Order on Federal Sustainability. The GreenGov Challenge generated more than 5,000 ideas and 165,000 votes from 14,000 federal employees.

Some GreenGov ideas have already been put into practice, from doubling the Federal hybrid fleet to eliminating Styrofoam cups from agency cafeterias.  Other ideas, such as utilizing renewable energy to power Federal buildings and expanding bicycle commuting, are being incorporated into each Federal agency’s annual Sustainability Plan.

The Executive Order further requires that the actions Federal agencies take to meet these goals have a positive return on investment for the American taxpayer. To promote accountability, annual progress will be measured by the Office of Management and Budget and reported online to the public.

Statement by the President on the Senate Judiciary Committee Vote

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Elena Kagan is one of this country’s leading legal minds, and has shown throughout this process that, if confirmed, she would be a fair and impartial Supreme Court Justice who understands how decisions made by the Court affect the lives of everyday Americans.

Today’s vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee is a bipartisan affirmation of her strong performance during her confirmation hearings. I want to thank the Judiciary Committee for giving her a thorough, timely and respectful hearing, and I look forward to the full Senate taking up and voting on this nomination before the August recess.