U.S. President Barack Obama is preparing to nominate Jacob "Jack" Lew as the new U.S. Treasury secretary, according to a number of reports released today (Wednesday.)
The nomination could be announced as early as Thursday.
Lew would replace current U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who made it known he would leave the White House by month's end.
Sources say President Obama had to convince Geithner, the former head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, to remain in the position for the duration of the president's first term. Geithner was ready to leave after the nasty debt fight during the summer of 2011.
The appointment comes as the budget battle on Capitol Hill is heating up.
Lew would immediately have to tackle major debates in Washington, focusing on what to do with the country's $16.4 trillion debt ceiling (reached on Dec. 31) and how to handle the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts.
Who is Jack Lew?
Jacob "Jack" Lew, 57, is the current White House Chief of Staff.
He led the Office of Management and Budget under both President Obama and President Bill Clinton. In addition, Lew was a deputy to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department early on during President Obama's first term.
Sources note that as White House Chief of Staff, Lew played a major role in working with overseas officials during Europe's sovereign debt crisis. Lew also served as COO of New York University and had stints at two divisions of Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C).
He's said to be a loyal lieutenant to the president and an approachable kind of guy, according to supporters.
While Lew would not bring the kind of financial acumen to the job as Geithner, he is regarded in Washington as processing an absolute understanding of the complex domestic and international economic issues his potential new position demands.
Plus, Lew is an old-hand in Washington when it comes to budget fights, which will dominate Congress in the coming months. ;
What the New U.S. Treasury Secretary Has in Store
Lew would enter the prominent position of U.S. Treasury secretary at a daunting time.
The government is facing a bona fide threat of default. The Obama administration could enter non-payment on its debts as early as Feb. 15, the Bipartisan Policy Center warns.
If appointed as 76th U.S. Treasury secretary, Lew would be President Obama's chief collaborator in the upcoming hard-hitting discussions that are sure to pit resolute Republicans against staunch Democrats.
Lew will face the wrath of unwavering Republicans who are prepared to use the risk of default to coerce Team Obama to slash spending and cut entitlement benefits. The president has been vocal that he will not again bargain over the country's borrowing limit. The last time he did in late summer 2011, the collapsed discussions were an embarrassment for the country, and sent markets reeling.;
It's yet to be seen if Senate Republicans will object to Lew's anticipated nomination.
Scores of GOP members deem Lew competent. But they also view him as unyielding, citing budget wars dating as far back as the 1990s.
And after Republicans relented on raising taxes (for couples earning more than $450,000) in order to cinch a fiscal cliff deal, they are adamant on no future tax increases as part of any upcoming deficit-reduction deal.
Lew's spoken support of such a move is certain to stoke disapproval from Republican House Speaker John Boehner and his team.
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