Can Jack Lew do for Obama what AmeriCorps did for Clinton?

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When the son of an Israeli Irgun member, left the White House to run for mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel left a void not quite filled by his replacement Bill Daley. In many respects Daley was not able to fill the shoes for the President. He could not get the respect of those he needed on the Hill and even within the Administration to be an effective advocate for Mr. Obama. So when Daley seemingly abruptly resigned this week, there was no hesitation before New Yorker, and perennial Washington insider Jack Lew, an Orthodox Jew, was called on to step in. Lew makes for an interesting choice for Mr. Obama, as he is one who has the respect of both sides. He comes with impressive credentials stemming from his days working for Democratic Congressman Joe Moakley and the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill. More recently, he was an executive at Citicorp where he ran a group that made alternative investments, such as hedge funds, credit swaps and other creative financial mechanisms that people such as the President say has hurt the economy.

Lew served as Clinton’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and also served as a member of the National Security Council. A feature that might be helpful for Mr. Obama is that while at OMB, the U.S. budget saw a surplus for three years in a row.

Lew is a smart man with good ideas, and understands budgets and fiscal prudence. Maybe that’s why he was chosen. Going into what may be a harsh re-election campaign, Mr. Obama may be seeking to bolster his credibility among those who feel he has not done a good job on the economic front. As someone who designed Bill Clinton’s AmeriCorps, a program that helped and continues to create jobs, opportunity, hope and civic pride, perhaps Lew was brought in to develop the next best thing for a struggling administration.

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