WASHINGTON -- With the federal deficit having already topped $1 trillion for the 2010 budget year, President Obama's new budget chief, Jacob Lew, has found himself wading into a financial mess.
On Tuesday, the president tapped Lew to become the new head Office of Management and Budget, saying special leadership is in order.
"If there was a hall of fame for budget directors then Jack Lew surely would have earned his place under President Clinton when he helped balance the federal budget after years of deficits," Obama said.
Lew last held the reins at the Federal Budget Office under President Bill Clinton. It was a time of economic prosperity and budget surplus.
However, this time around the challenge is how to rein in the massive national debt.
Although the president has blamed the Bush administration for handing him a deficit, much of the government's deficits have come from higher spending under Obama's administration.
- The $862 billion stimulus program
- Higher demands for unemployment benefits and food stamps
- The upcoming costs under the health care law
"By the time Obama's done, there will be no comparison between whatever debt was run up by all previous American presidents," former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich said.
Meanwhile, Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee have joined forces to try to cut $20 billion out of the president's budget for next year - about 2 percent.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the American people are worried about Washington's spending and want something done about it.
"The American people are saying to us -- 'You're spending too much, you're running up too many debts, and we expect you to do something about it,' " McConnell told reporters Tuesday.
"We're pleased to announce today that we're going to recommend a smaller pie, if you will, a smaller discretionary spending budget to our friends in the majority, and hope they will join us," he added.