I’ve blogged about it before over at Political Forecast, but I’m not too enthusiastic with the way that Senate Democrats have responded to Jim Nussle’s nomination to be Director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Maybe it is all of the work I did during the gubernatorial race talking about Nussle’s failed leadership on the House Budget Committee as it’s chair–leading us into horrible deficits, uncontrollable spending, and ridiculous tax cuts for the richest Americans.
Or maybe it is just that we know he’s a confrontational hack who shouldn’t be charged with leading such a complex and tough office, one that requires someone with some kind of expertise is actual management and appropriate budgeting techniques. The reality, however, is the that OMB is largely a political office and it made sense for Bush to pick someone who was willing to give up the next two years to fight with Congressional Democratic leadership about the Republican President’s budget.
Still, the least the Democrats could do is raise objections to Nussle’s past experience–deficits and debt–and instead call for someone more inclined to have positive budget experience, yet be known for compromise and hard work, not hackery.
I guess that’s why I’m slightly surprised at today’s Register story where Jane Norman reports that Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, is not all that enthusiastic about Nussle’s nomination and has some reservations. Maybe that’s just political cover for the left flank by telling grumpy activists like me that they’re not planning for anything great coming from, but are going to confirm him anyway.
Or maybe it is some serious action that would make Conrad more inclined to grill him during confirmation hearings. Conrad is no liberal in the way that people consider Iowa’s Tom Harkin (who has indicated he’ll likely vote to confirm Nussle), but Conrad has a strong populist streak on trade and labor issues. Nussle’s record on those issues, particularly with the budget, is not good at all. Kudos to Conrad for stepping up, and I hope he takes it to another level.