Bush welcomes in new chief of staff

US President George Bush calls Joshua Bolten, his new chief of staff, a “creative policy thinker”.

US President George Bush calls Joshua Bolten, his new chief of staff, a “creative policy thinker”.

In more informal circles, he’s known as a budget cruncher who cruises around on a motorcycle.

After a two-week crash course from former White House chief of staff Andy Card, who is stepping down after more than five years in the job, Bolten, 51, will take on the arduous task of directing the West Wing and deciding who gets the ear of the president.

“He’s a man of candour and humour and directness who’s comfortable with the responsibility and knows how to lead,” Bush said today in an Oval Office announcement.

Bolten, a discreet man generally viewed as a pragmatist who likes to get things done, said he is succeeding Card, but won’t be filling his shoes.

“Andy cannot be replaced,” Bolten said.

“I’m grateful for Andy’s willingness to stay on for a couple of weeks to help break me in, and then I’m anxious to get to work,” Bolten said.

Bolten has broad experience, having worked on Capitol Hill and Wall Street, on the White House staff, and for nearly three years as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“Josh is a creative policy thinker,” Bush said. “He’s an expert on the budget and our economy. He’s respected by members of Congress from both parties. He’s a strong advocate for effective, accountable management in the federal government.”

Bolten has broad experience and has been with Bush from the moment he assumed the presidency.

Bolten joined Bush’s administration on June 30, 2003, when he was sworn in as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, a Cabinet-rank position. After Bush’s announcement of Bolten’s new duties, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called Bolten a “master of the budget and economic issues.”

Bolten was budget chief when the government ran its three largest deficits ever, including the record €342bn shortfall in 2004 – though the economy and years of decision-making by presidents and politicians were largely to blame.

He always insisted that the most important gauge was how the deficit compared to the size of the US economy. Most economists agree that is the most telling way to understand how serious a problem the deficit is, but it is a measure that also made the red ink seem less severe because the economy is so huge.

Before sitting in the budget director seat, Bolten was assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy at the White House.

From March 1999 through November 2000, Bolten was policy director of the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign. Previously, he was executive director of legal and government affairs for Goldman Sachs International in London.

While a government worker, Bolten sheds his bureaucratic tendencies when he straddles his motorcycle. In 2004, Bolten was with members of the Rolling Thunder motorcycling group who revved their engines on the White House driveway during a visit with Bush. The group, dedicated to prisoner of war/missing in action issues, was holding its annual “Ride for Freedom” rally in the capital that day.

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