Sam Stein profiles Jack Lew, the White House Chief of Staff, for the Huffington Post. In one passage, Stein recounts the difficulty observers have in labeling the quietly powerful figure.
Still, it's tough to tell what type of ideological imprint Lew has had on the administration. Aides credit him and Sperling with scoring major victories during the government shutdown debate in the spring of 2011 and the debt ceiling debate later that summer. House Republicans left the former thinking they'd secured $100 billion in savings, only to discover, upon closer inspection, that it was $32 billion. The $1 trillion sequester included in the debt ceiling deal included defense cuts, while leaving out top Democratic priorities like Medicaid (in one late-stage phone call with Republican aides, Lew screamed down attempts to make that program part of the trigger).
But in each instance, the broader debate was waged on Republican terms: additional stimulus spending took a backseat to deficit reduction. One Lew confidant said that Lew personally views himself as a progressive, despite having a reputation as a Clinton-era, new Democrat budget hawk. Sperling would only describe him as someone who straddles, if not outright ignores, the labels and lines.