Still in his second week on the job as Congressional Republicans' punching-bag-in-training, Jacob "Jack" Lew came to Alpharetta on Thursday as the site for his first trip outside Washington as the nation's newly appointed Treasury secretary.
Looking in his round glasses much like the Harvard-educated lawyer that he is, Lew spent a half-hour touring a Siemens plant before speaking briefly to reporters in an effort to tout the Obama administration's support for American manufacturing.
Explaining that the president favors a "dynamic economy" with revived manufacturing and export sectors, Lew said the country needs to invest in infrastructure and research, although he avoided using the dreaded "S" word — "stimulus."
The future of domestic manufacturing—which Lew described as "bright"—depends on a "combination of the private sector, American universities and publicly funded research," he said. "There's a broad understanding that Washington needs to be part of the formula."
So, why deliver that message 600 miles from Washington, where all eyes are turned to the Sequester negotiations?
Lew explained that the Siemens plant, which makes traction drives for streetcars, light rail systems and mining cars, is just the kind of high-tech industry the administration wants to support. The fact that the facility lies sits in south Forsyth County—the very reddest place in this red state—may have entered into the decision. (It also doesn't hurt that ATL is a 90-minute flight from JFK.)
Speaking of the budget deadlock, Lew said he believes GOP congressmen will warm to the president's position once they actually take the time to study his proposal.
"The president has put a lot on the table," he said.