Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lew to Focus on Budget Battles as Treasury Secretary Pick

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lew to Focus on Budget Battles as Treasury Secretary Pick

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Thursday formally nominated White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew to lead the Treasury Department, saying the longtime Washington operator and unassuming budget wonk would focus on the battles over the federal budget that are likely to consume the much of the president's second term.

In brief remarks in the East Room, Mr. Obama highlighted Mr. Lew's past experience negotiating budget deals, first as an aide to then-House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill and then as budget director for President Bill Clinton.

Noting the balanced budgets in the Clinton era, Mr. Obama said, "For all the talk out there about deficit reduction, making sure our books are balanced, this is the guy who did it -- three times."

Mr. Lew served as Mr. Obama's budget director before coming over to the White House early last year to calm one in a series of transition periods in the West Wing. Mr. Lew, a longtime Washington aide known for his low profile, has been Mr. Obama's fourth chief of staff.

"One reason Jack has been so effective in this town is because he is a low-key guy who prefers to surround himself with policy experts rather than television cameras," Mr. Obama said. "And over the years, he's built a reputation as a master of policy who can work with members of both parties and forge principled compromises."

The president made only a passing reference to another relevant item on Mr. Lew's resume -- his three-year tenure as an executive at Citigroup Inc. The relatively thin experience with Wall Street and markets has left some guessing as to how he might handle Treasury's increased regulatory role or negotiations over continued economic uncertainty in Europe.

But Mr. Obama's remarks made clear that Mr. Lew's top challenge is one closer to home. A year-end budget deal with congressional Republicans set up a series of upcoming fights over taxing and spending, debts and deficits, and Treasury will be closely engaged in the negotiations. …

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