White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew stressed across-the-aisle cooperation in remarks prepared for his U.S. treasury secretary confirmation hearing Wednesday.
After preliminary thank-yous, Lew told members of the Senate Finance Committee that, "forging bipartisan consensus is not an abstract idea for me."
He cut his teeth with across-the-aisle politics working with former House Speaker Thomas (Tip) O'Neill, Jr. during the Ronald Reagan administration in an attempt to save Social Security.
"He allowed me to gain a deep understanding of what could be accomplished through bipartisan cooperation," Lew said.
Lew said cooperation was also critical in the private sector. He was an administrator at New York University and an executive at Citigroup. "My experience in leadership positions outside government has proven that working collaboratively to solve problems is a universal necessity," he said.
"Finally, as the White House chief of staff, I have had the opportunity to work directly at the side of the president who has always believed, as I do, that neither party has a monopoly on good ideas," he added.
Lew said the top priority at the Treasury Department was to facilitate job creation and, he said, "at the same time we must put our nation back on a path of fiscal sustainability."
He touted recent gains, which he said included the creation of 6 million jobs over the past 35 months and "$2.5 trillion in deficit reduction through spending cuts and revenue increases."
"And we can do even more to shrink the deficit over the next decade through a balanced mix of spending reductions and tax reforms, and sensible reforms to Medicare that will help the program stay sound in the future," he said.
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