U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement today regarding the nomination of Jack Lew to be Secretary of the Treasury:
"Jack Lew must never be Secretary of the Treasury. His testimony before the Senate Budget Committee less than two years ago was so outrageous and false that it alone disqualifies.
On the most important question of our time, the unsustainability of our national debt course, Lew, as the President's budget director, appeared before Congress and continued to insist that President Obama's budget--which Lew had crafted--would not add to the debt of the United States. His original statement, to a national television audience, was as follows:
"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.'
Nothing could be further from the truth. I have called it the greatest financial misrepresentation in history. His budget, according to his own OMB analysis, would have never produced over 10 years an annual deficit of less than $600 billion. Overall, as reported in the White House budget tables, the plan would have added $13 trillion to the gross debt by 2021--never putting us in a position to "bring down our national debt.'
To "look the American people in the eye' and make such a statement remains the most direct and important false assertion during my entire time in Washington. He stuck to this position in his testimony--although Sec. Geithner before the Committee later did not--and the President continued to make this assertion even in the last months of the campaign. To confirm Mr. Lew would be to acquiesce in a policy of dishonesty to the American people.
It's time to look the American people in the eye and tell them the truth.
It's time for a Secretary of Treasury to look the American people in the eye and lay out an economic plan for America that will end our debt path that has endangered our future and which will find support among the American people and the world's financial community. Far from being a positive force towards this essential good, Mr. Lew has given priority to the political interests of the President, in whose White House inner circle he has now served for several years. He is also the architect of two of the worst budgets in American history, both of which received zero votes in the Senate. These plans surged taxes, spending, and debt. He was chief of staff when the second budget was submitted but had also been the budget director while it was being drafted.
For me, no mea culpa, no excuse, can erase the errors of Mr. Lew. They go to the heart of his responsibility as OMB Director and as White House Chief of Staff.
President Obama needs to appoint people to his cabinet who will have the trust of both parties and the American people. Sadly, with this and other appointments, the President is going in the other direction.
At this time of unprecedented slow growth, high unemployment, and huge deficits, we need a Secretary of Treasury that the American people, the Congress, and the world will know is up to the task of getting America on the path to prosperity not the path to decline. Jack Lew is not that man."