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22 February 2024

Obama taps businessman to lead budget office


President Barack Obama Tuesday named former businessman Jeff Zients to head his Office of Management and Budget, as the administration geared up for a new election-campaign-infused budget fight.

"I'm pleased to designate Jeff Zients to lead the Office of Management and Budget," Obama said in a statement announcing the decision to appoint the former Advisory Board Company CEO.

"Since day one, Jeff has demonstrated superb judgment and has provided sound advice on a whole host of issues."

He replaces the current head of the OMB, Jack Lew, who was recently tapped as Obama's next White House chief of staff.

Obama will hope that Zients -- currently the OMB's number three -- will offer a steady hand at the tiller, with just weeks to go before the president lays out his federal budget plan for 2013.

Obama's budget must be submitted by the first Monday in February.

The plan is almost certain to be dead on arrival in Congress, where Republicans control the House of Representatives.

But it will likely serve as a cornerstone for Obama's reelection campaign, setting out his stance on taxation, spending and trimming the budget deficit -- a recurring election issue.

Zients was previously interim director of the OMB between July and November 2010.

He also worked for Bain & Company, a consultancy linked to private equity firm Bain Capital -- which has, along with former employee Mitt Romney, been accused of representing "vulture capitalism."