WASHINGTON (AP) – Jack Lew, President Barack Obama’s likely nominee for treasury secretary, is a premier federal budget expert who would take the helm of the government’s main agency for economic and fiscal policy just as the administration girds itself for a new confrontation with congressional Republicans over the nation’s debt and deficits.
Obama is expected to nominate Lew as early as Thursday, continuing to put a second-term imprint on his Cabinet by choosing yet another close ally for a key government post.
A year ago, almost to the day, Obama appointed Lew as his chief of staff, taking him from his perch as director of the Office of Management and Budget into the White House’s tight inner circle.
In selecting Lew to replace Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Obama not only would be picking an insider steeped in budget matters but also a tough bargainer. Some Republicans complain that Lew has been unyielding in past fiscal negotiations.
If confirmed, Lew would assume the post in time for the administration to tangle anew with Republicans over a confluence of three looming fiscal deadlines – raising the $16.4 trillion federal borrowing limit, averting automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic programs, and renewing a congressional resolution that has been keeping the government operating. Those three events, if unresolved, would have a far greater negative effect on the economy than the “fiscal cliff” Obama and Congress avoided a week ago.