THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||April 14, 1998|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
The South Grounds
8:55 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: In a few moments I am leaving forHouston to speak to the men and women of NASA, visit with America'soldest and newest space hero, Senator John Glenn, and participatetonight in an ESPN Town Hall on Race. But first, I want to make apersonnel announcement about a critical position on our economicteam.
For five and a half years, our administration hasbrought a new vision of stewardship to our economy. We insisted onfiscal discipline, on bringing the deficit down from $290 billion onthe day I took office to nearly zero today. At the same time, wewere determined to invest in our people and their future, to give allAmericans the chance to reap the rewards of our prosperity. Thisinvest and grow economic strategy is clearly the right one forAmerica.
To put this strategy into place we have needed an ableteam. I have been proud to have at my side skilled and dedicated menand women, a true team of public servants who have helped to steerthe economy through one of the longest peacetime expansions in ourhistory. For the past two years, Frank Raines has been a key memberof that team. He has served the American people with truedistinction as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Heis the first Budget Director to draft and submit a balanced budgetsince Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. He brought a businessman'spractical sensibility to the task of safeguarding the taxpayers'hard-earned dollars.
He has earned the trust of Democratic and Republicanmembers of Congress alike. He has served as a key negotiator of lastyear's balanced budget agreement. He has shown true leadership intackling the difficult problems of the District of Columbia. FrankRaines has been, in short, a brilliant OMB Director, a leader of this
administration, a trusted advisor, an able spokesperson, and a realfriend.
He has just informed me in the last couple of days thathe has decided to step down as Director of OMB because of awonderful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the private sector. Iregret his decision, but I certainly understand it. I think it'sclearly the right thing for him, his wife Wendy and their children,and I wish them all the best.
I'm also delighted to announce my intention to nominateJack Lew to be the next OMB Director. Only a handful of people inWashington have Jack Lew's profound knowledge of the federal budgetand the legislative process; almost none of them has his ability toexplain it in plain English. Just as important, very few people inWashington also have his record of idealism, commitment andconscience.
From his days as policy director for the Speaker of theHouse, when he and Tip O'Neill worked to strengthen Social Securityin 1983, to his days fighting to create AmeriCorps, a nationalservice initiative that has brought the spark of service and theopportunity for a college education to the lives of tens of thousandsof young Americans, to his most recent work as Deputy Director ofOMB, drafting our balanced budget, Jack Lew has been a true anddedicated public servant.
Like Frank Raines, with whom he has made a very goodteam, Jack works to balance the budget not just for its own sake, butfor the sake of the people whose interests and values he serves. Healready serves as a valued member of our economic team. I lookforward to his speedy confirmation as Director of OMB, and I thankhim and his wonderful family for being here today and for beingwilling to undertake the sacrifice and rigors of public service forthe honor and the reward.
Thank you very much. Now I'd like to ask Mr. Raines andMr. Lew to make statements.
MR. RAINES: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, twoyears and two days ago you introduced me to the public as yournominee to be the next Director of the Office of Management andBudget. That was a thrilling day for me and my family, and it's beena distinct honor to serve in your administration and work every dayon behalf of the American people. I'm proud to have been a member ofyour economic team.
The American family's budget as well as the government'sbudget are doing well because you have successfully pursued a policyof fiscal discipline from the day you took office. As the federalgovernment has gotten its financial affairs in order, it has clearedthe way for the American economy to deliver its best performance inmore than a generation.
You have not only eliminated deficit spending, which wasas high as $290 billion when you took office, but even the word"deficit" seems to have disappeared from Washington's lexicon. Noweveryone focuses on the prospects of budget surpluses as far as theeye can see -- surpluses you have wisely reserved until a long-termsolution to the problems of Social Security have been put in place.
Yours has been the finest fiscal policy in 30 years.Over the last two years we've not only reached a bipartisan budgetagreement, but also invested in the future of the nation. Congresshas enacted your proposals to ensure that every high school graduatecan attend college, extend health insurance coverage to five millionkids, restore benefits to legal immigrants, protect the environment,modernize our Armed Forces, increase scientific research, and reducecrime. Your tax cuts will help families raise their kids with a$500-per-child tax credit and to save for retirement.
The 1999 budget you submitted in February lays andagenda for action before the Congress. It proposes to balance thebudget three years earlier than called for in the Balanced BudgetAgreement and proposes fully paid for new initiatives. But theeconomy is performing so well that it's clear that the first balancedbudget in 30 years will occur in 1998, four years early. When Ipromised you a year ago that the budget would reach balance duringyour term of office, little did I know how quickly that promise wouldbe redeemed.
Less remarked upon has been our progress in creating amore effective government under the leadership of the Vice President.We not only produced the first balanced budget, but also produced thefirst agency's strategic plans, the first government-wide performanceplan, and the first government-wide audited financial statements. Wenow purchase goods with the taxpayer in mind and invest ininformation technology in a smarter, more effective way.
I've derived particular personal satisfaction from theenactment of your revitalization plan for the District of Columbia.Your plan redressed decades of problems and inequities faced by thecitizens of the Nation's Capital, and I'm grateful for the personalsupport lent by you and the First Lady to this cause.
The Office of Management and Budget is one of the mostimportant institutions of the modern presidency. These policy andcareer officials work days, nights, weekends and holidays to makesure that your policies succeed. It's been my privilege to lead themen and women of OMB as the 31st Director, and I'd like to thank themfor helping me help you.
Finally, Mr. President, I could not be more pleased thatyou've selected Jack Lew as my successor. He's been my partner inthe fullest sense of the word. He has dedicated most of his life topublic service, and I am sure that he will be a most valuable playeron your economic team.
Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, my tenure as Directorof OMB has been a wonderful experience and a great adventure for meand my family. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve mynation.
MR. LEW: Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President.It's been a privilege to serve you for these last five years. Yourleadership has produced a record of economic success almostunimaginable five years ago. You've restored the ideal that fiscaldiscipline and progressive government must be essential partners.Working in a bipartisan manner, you have helped move America forward.
The challenges that lie ahead are many -- from SocialSecurity reform to education, child care and health care; fromdealing with the challenges of climate change and managing thefederal government that is smaller and more efficient, to ensuringthat we maintain the strongest force for freedom in the world.
I am honored by the challenge to serve as your BudgetDirector as we complete the work of the 20th century and chart thecourse for a vibrant 21st century.
On a personal note, there are many to whom I owe much:My parents, Irving and Ruth Lew taught me and my sister that freedomis a blessing which we cannot take for granted and which requires usto participate in public debate. My wife Ruth, and my childrenShoshi and Danny, who make so many sacrifices so that I may continueto serve. Teachers and colleagues who have taught me that the devilis in the detail, and that so are the accomplishments. (Laughter.)Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill, who taught me how this great democracyworks, how core values can weather the most difficult storms, andperhaps most importantly, it's nice to be important, but it's moreimportant to be nice.
It has been an honor to serve as Deputy to Alice Rivlinand Frank Raines, on an economic team with Erskine Bowles, Bob Rubin,Gene Sperling, Janet Yellin, and Larry Summers; to work alongside EliSegal to launch AmeriCorps, and with the First Lady on health carereform. I'm truly honored to be nominated today.
I look forward to continuing our efforts to maintainsound fiscal policy as we advance the values that make our communitystrong and provide opportunities to all Americans as we raise ageneration that will take responsibility for leading us into a newcentury.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Q Mr. President, what do you think of the big bankmergers? Mr. President, do you have any ideas about them?
THE PRESIDENT: It would be inappropriate to commentnow.
Q Where is Mr. Raines going -- this chance of alifetime?
MR. RAINES: Stay tuned. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Shortly. That's news, unfortunately, Ican't make.
Q Do you expect others to be leaving theadministration, Mr. President?