Op-ed: What does Obama’s choice for budget director say about his priorities?

President Obama has nominated Sylvia Mathews Burwell to lead the Office of Management and Budget, which hasn’t had a permanent leader since Jack Lew left to become the White House chief of staff.

Burwell served in the Clinton administration, but left Washington in 2001 to join the Gates Foundation. Since late 2011, she’s been president of the Walmart Foundation. It’s that position in Bentonville, Ark., that alarms Bertha Lewis. In The Guardian, she writes that the Walmart Foundation is not “a traditional charity”:

It exists to advance the company’s agenda – silencing dissenters in their rapid urban expansion. It has donated to groups that have gone on the record to support Walmart during its most contentious political disputes, including the ongoing effort to open stores in New York City. And it has even donated directly to municipalities and to groups tied to powerful elected officials.

Real Clear Politics characterizes Burwell’s appointment as the return of a proven inside-the-beltway veteran:

Burwell, who in her first go-round in government was known by her maiden name, volunteered in 1992 with the Clinton campaign at its headquarters in Little Rock, Ark., and impressed then-outside-adviser Robert Rubin with her knack for injecting a smidgen of corporate-world organization into what seemed to him to be chaos. As the years ran on, she took on tougher management assignments, including Clinton’s ill-defined, pet project in 1997 known as his “national conversation on race.”

But Lewis sees the appointment as a blow to the average American:

In choosing Burwell, President Obama has made his priorities clear. Rather than standing with working families, he has chosen someone who has been complicit – and has, in fact, led the way – in ignoring the poverty-level jobs created by Walmart. As head of its foundation, Burwell has instead encouraged the use of Walmart’s profits to silence dissent.

Read more about other Obama nominees, to the EPA and the Department of Energy.