[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)] [April 14, 1998] [Pages 555-556] [From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]
Remarks Announcing the Office of Management and Budget Transition and an Exchange With Reporters April 14, 1998 The President. In a few moments I am leaving for Houston to speak to the men and women of NASA, visit with America's oldest and newest space hero, Senator John Glenn, and participate tonight in an ESPN townhall on race. But first, I want to make a personnel announcement about a critical position on our economic team. For 5\1/2\ years, our administration has brought a new vision of stewardship to our economy. We insisted on fiscal discipline, on bringing the deficit down from $290 billion on the day I [[Page 556]] took office to nearly zero today. At the same time, we were determined to invest in our people and their future, to give all Americans the chance to reap the rewards of our prosperity. This invest and grow economic strategy is clearly the right one for America. To put this strategy into place, we have needed an able team. I have been proud to have at my side skilled and dedicated men and women, a true team of public servants who have helped to steer the economy through one of the longest peacetime expansions in our history. For the past 2 years, Frank Raines has been a key member of that team. He has served the American people with true distinction as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He is the first Budget Director to draft and submit a balanced budget since Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. He brought a businessman's practical sensibility to the task of safeguarding the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars. He has earned the trust of Democratic and Republican Members of Congress alike. He has served as a key negotiator of last year's balanced budget agreement. He has shown true leadership in tackling the difficult problems of the District of Columbia. Frank Raines has been, in short, a brilliant OMB Director, a leader of this administration, a trusted adviser, an able spokesperson, and a real friend. He has just informed me in the last couple of days that he has decided to step down as Director of OMB because of a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the private sector. I regret his decision, but I certainly understand it. I think it's clearly 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 nominate Jack Lew to be the next OMB Director. Only a handful of people in Washington have Jack Lew's profound knowledge of the Federal budget and the legislative process; almost none of them has his ability to explain it in plain English. Just as important, very few people in Washington also have his record of idealism, commitment, and conscience. From his days as policy director for the Speaker of the House, when he and Tip O'Neill worked to strengthen Social Security in 1983, to his days fighting to create AmeriCorps, a national service initiative that has brought the spark of service and the opportunity for a college education to the lives of tens of thousands of young Americans, to his most recent work as Deputy Director of OMB, drafting our balanced budget, Jack Lew has been a true and dedicated public servant. Like Frank Raines, with whom he has made a very good team, Jack works to balance the budget not just for its own sake but for the sake of the people whose interests and values he serves. He already serves as a valued member of our economic team. I look forward to his speedy confirmation as Director of OMB, and I thank him and his wonderful family for being here today and for being willing to undertake the sacrifice and rigors of public service for the honor and the reward. Thank you very much. Now I'd like to ask Mr. Raines and Mr. Lew to make statements. [At this point, Director Raines and Director-designate Lew made brief remarks.] NationsBank and BankAmerica Merger Q. Mr. President, what do you think of the big bank mergers? Mr. President, do you have any ideas about them? The President. It would be inappropriate to comment now. Director of the Office of Management and Budget Q. Where is Mr. Raines going--this chance of a lifetime? Director Raines. Stay tuned. [Laughter] The President. Shortly. That's news, unfortunately, I can't make. Note: The President spoke at 8:55 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House, prior to his departure for Houston, TX.