US President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew to the key cabinet post of budget director, signaling to voters he intends to tackle the gaping US deficit. If, as is likely, Lew is confirmed by the Senate, he will succeed Peter Orszag who is leaving the administration at the end of the month after playing a prominent role in Obama's fight against the worst economic crisis in decades. Lew would be reprising a role as director for the Office of Management and Budget that he played for Bill Clinton, the last Democratic president, in an administration remembered as a model of fiscal restraint and careful budgeting. "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. "When Jack left that post at the end of the Clinton administration, he handed the next administration a record 236-billion-dollar budget surplus," Obama said. "The day I took office, eight years later, America faced a record 1.3-trillion-dollar deficit."The US budget deficit, which the White House warned earlier this year could reach 1.555 trillion dollars, has emerged as a huge political issue and threatens to crimp Obama's ambitious reform plans. "Jack's challenge over the next few years is to use his extraordinary skill and experience to cut down that deficit and put our nation back on a fiscally responsible path," Obama said. Lew's task is daunting, as budget directors have few tools to trim the fat of the US government's operating costs other than unpopular tax increases or painful spending cuts.