“President Barack Obama announced Thursday that he is nominating Jack Lew, his chief of staff, to replace Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary as the administration prepares for a new round of budget battles with Congress.
The nomination highlights the changed economic landscape that faces Obama as he starts his second term. Geithner is a former president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank whose tenure focused largely on the financial crisis that dominated Obama’s first years in office. But Lew, a federal budget expert and two-time director of the Office of Management and Budget, for both Bill Clinton and Obama, would take the reins at Treasury in an era of perpetual budget standoffs with Congress.
“Under President Clinton, he presided over three budget surpluses in a row,” Obama said in the East Room of the White House, appearing with Lew and Geithner. “This is the guy who did it, three times.””
“But he is no stranger to Wall Street. From 2006-09, the Harvard and Georgetown Law graduate worked as chief operating officer at the Citigroup Alternative Investments unit.
“Mr. Lew understands the important role the financial sector plays in our economy, as well as our continued economic recovery,” Financial Services Forum President and CEO Rob Nichols said in a statement.
“We look forward to working with him to ensure a robust and well-functioning financial sector, strong capital markets, and policies that boost our global competiveness, economic growth and job creation.”
Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, a group that lobbies for tougher regulations on Wall Street, raised some concerns.
“The one area of concern is whether or not he is sufficiently committed to quickly and thoroughly implementing financial reform and re-regulating Wall Street,” he said Thursday. “This concern arises from Mr. Lew’s past statements suggesting a lack of knowledge about the financial crisis and its causes. He has appeared to minimize the undeniably critical role deregulation played in causing and accelerating the financial and economic crises.””
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