Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Line dance

Here’s something that Republicans might want to hear: the White House is promising that its budget will include serious deficit control.

EGYPT-USA/“The budget will show a very serious path of deficit reduction,” White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew said in an interview with Reuters’ White House correspondents Alister Bull and Jeff Mason.

While the budget will make “tough choices and tough cuts,” Lew said, “there will also be the question of how far do you want to go in some of these areas and what are the consequences of going beyond a certain line.”

That line and where it is drawn will be scrutinized when Obama releases his budget proposal on Feb. 14 (yes, Valentine’s Day).

Speaking of lines, the United States appears to be taking a tougher one with its ally of 30 years, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. While not calling for Mubarak’s immediate departure, the White House said transition must start right away. “Now means now,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Lew’s on deck to take over – but is it the OMB or the MLB?

After Spain’s victory in the World Cup, LeBron James’ move to the Miami Heat and his own golf outing on Sunday, U.S. President Barack Obama clearly has sports on the brain.

USAAs he introduced Jacob Lew as his nominee to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, Obama sprinkled his remarks with allusions to sports.

“If there was a Hall of Fame for budget directors, then Jack Lew surely would have earned a place for his service in that role under President Clinton, when he helped balance the federal budget after years of deficits,” Obama said.

U.S. officials seek to shelve Karzai tensions

Tensions, what tensions?

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew arrived back from Afghanistan and Pakistan on Friday, touting the performance of several ministers in Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government.

OBAMA-AFGHANISTANHis visit came at a particularly tense time in U.S.-Afghan relations after Karzai made some corrosive statements in recent weeks against his donors, blaming the West for much of the corruption in his country and drawing critical comments from the White House.

Hours after landing home, Lew went out of his way to single out several Afghan ministers, including the finance and agriculture ministers, who he said were “extraordinary leaders.”

The First Draft: Afghanistan and Obama

AFGHANISTAN/President Barack Obama heads to Florida today to thank members of the military for their service — but given the deadly violence in Afghanistan, the commander-in-chief might use the opportunity to reflect on strategy in the region.

Before Obama takes off, he’ll meet with his foreign policy and national security team to discuss the situation and troops on the ground.

Afghanistan will also be on the agenda at the State Department, where Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew will talk about progress made in hiring civilians there. The topic could come up at the Council on Foreign Relations too; Sen. John Kerry’s speaking there around midday.