If President Obama wanted to pick a National Economic Council nominee completely untrusted by Republicans, he could not have done any better than the man he chose, current Office of Management and Budget director Jeffrey Zients.
On Feb. 14, 2012, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., challenged Zients to resign unless he could substantiate his claim that Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget did not increase spending.
"Do you propose to spend more money over the next 10 years than what the Budget Control Act and current law would cause us to spend?" Sessions asked.
"I think what we have is a much more honest baseline. A baseline that has SGR, AMT not patched year after year but extends through the period," Zients answered.
Republican Budget Committee staff later released the following statement challenging Zients integrity:
"The White House has repeatedly claimed that their budget contains $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. In truth, the budget plan submitted by the president would increase spending by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years relative to current projections.
"Over that time, the federal government will spend a total of $47 trillion, up from $45.5 trillion projected under the already enacted Budget Control Act — producing by the president’s own projections an additional $11.2 trillion in gross debt.”
Sessions today condemned Obama's selection of Zients for the NEC, saying "at this critical time, the position of the president’s chief economic advisor demands the very best our nation has to offer."
Instead, Sessions said, "the president has appointed a loyalist whose main contribution to the economic debate has been to mislead the public about the effects of the president’s budget plans. ... This appointment sends a clear message: the president has no new plan, no new vision, and there will be no change in course."