WASHINGTON — When President Obama was locked in painful spending negotiations with House Republicans last spring, his exceedingly meticulous budget director, Jacob J. Lew, came to the Oval Office to propose some complex budget changes. As Lew delved deeper and deeper into the numbers, Obama put up his hand, signaling him to stop.
‘‘Jack, it’s fine,’’ the president said, according to Gene Sperling, Obama’s economics adviser, who witnessed the exchange. ‘‘I trust your values. I trust your judgment on this.’’