Created on: January 12, 2013 Last Updated: January 14, 2013
On Jan. 10, 2013, President Obama nominated his Chief of Staff Jack Lew to replace the departing Timothy Geithner as the Secretary of the Treasury. This left many beyond the Beltway scratching their heads. Just who is Lew?
For the media’s part, instead of supplying background details about Lew, they have largely chosen to focus on Lew’s illegible, looping signature, which would appear on currency once he is confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury.
Opposition from the Republicans
Jacob “Jack” Lew takes on a thankless task, considering the upcoming debates over the deficit, debt ceiling, and budgetary cutbacks…if he makes it through the Senate confirmation hearings, that is. Republicans have already been criticizing his “lack of business and financial markets experience,” reports CNN (despite his experience in wealth management at Citigroup).
While some Republicans were singing his praises when Lew took the chief of staff position from Bill Daley (most notably, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor), now that he heads into the heart of the budgetary battles as Treasury Secretary, the GOP attitudes may be different.
For example, according to Bob Woodward, it appears that Speaker John Boehner may be one of those likely to give Lew problems. According to Woodward, who got this comment about Lew from Speaker John Boehner for his book, “The Price of Politics,” “Jack Lew said ‘no’ 999,000 times out of a million. At one point I told the president, keep him out of here.”
Another potential Republican adversary is Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala), who said of Lew, “Jack Lew must never be Secretary of Treasury. His testimony before the Senate Budget Committee less than two years ago was so outrageous and false that it alone disqualifies [him].”
ew’s background and qualifications
Jacob Lew was born and raised in New York, and at aged 12 was first exposed to the political process when he campaigned for Eugene McCarthy. He graduated from Harvard, then got a law degree from Georgetown.
He worked as an aide to Representative Joe Moakley (D-Mass) and then really learned about congressional horse-trading under the wings of the legendary Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill (D-Mass). According to the “Huffington Post,” Lew noted that he “grew up in many ways on the Hill” working for O’Neill. Lew then went on to serve as deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) during the Clinton Administration.
Leaving Washington, Lew went on to work for New York University (where he worked as a financial administrator) and Citigroup, but eventually returned, working under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, before being named as director of OMB in 2010. In Jan. 2012, he was named Obama’s chief of staff.
According to CNN, Lew has developed a reputation as a “details guy,” often putting in near record amounts of time on the job. According to Cantor, “No one was more prepared and more in tune with the numbers than Jack Lew,” but that doesn’t mean Republicans will make the process easy for him.
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