Bloomberg is reporting that President Barack Obama will name current Chief of Staff Jack Lew to be the next Treasury Secretary on Thursday, where he will succeed Tim Geithner.It has already been a busy week for Obama’s Cabinet reshuffle. On Monday, he nominated former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of defence and John Brennan, the White House homeland-security and counterterrorism adviser, to be the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Here are some things you need to know about Lew:
1. He was born in New York City, where he got his start in politics.
Lew grew up in a middle-class apartment in Forrest Hills, Queens, where he started taking up causes like building low-income housing, according to The New York Times.
At 12 years of age, he campaigned in New York for Sen. Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign.
”Pretty exciting for a 12-year-old,” Lew told the Times in 1999. ”It was also my introduction to seeing that you could make a difference in people’s lives through politics.”
2. He started his education at Carleton College in Minnesota.
He ended up getting a degree from Harvard. Later, while in Washington, he picked up a law degree from Georgetown by attending classes at night.
3. He ‘grew up’ while working for Speaker Tip O’Neill in the 80s.
Lew began his time Washington in 1973 as legislative aide on Capitol Hill, including as a domestic policy adviser to former House Speaker Tip O’Neill when Ronald Reagan was President. He worked in an office with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.
“When he said ‘Pell grants,’ it wasn’t something distant or numerical,” Matthews told the Times. “He knew this meant kids could go to college who didn’t have rich parents.”
As an aide, he helped negotiate a deal to reform Social Security in 1983.
4. He was a Special Assistant and the OMB director under President Clinton.
From February 1993 to October 1994, Lew served as a Special Assistant to the President in the Clinton administration. After a hiatus, he returned to the White House in 1995 as the Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. In 1998, he was promoted to be the Director of the OMB.
Lew played a key role in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which helped Clinton leave office having created a surplus.
5. He held a variety of positions between the Clinton and Obama administrations.
Most prominently, he gained his only experience on Wall Street as a managing director at Citigroup beginning in 2006. After his appointment to the Obama administration in 2010, he caught some fire — especially from liberals — for the stint.
Lew oversaw a unit that, among other strategies for job creation, bet against the housing market.
Citi paid Lew $1.1 million for his year at Alternative Investments, according to an ethics disclosure report filed in January 2009. He was also eligible for an undisclosed bonus. Lew did not immediately return a call for comment.
His unit, though, lost as much as billions of dollars in 2008 as its bets turned sour. In the first quarter of 2008 alone the unit lost $509 million; the company stopped publicly disclosing the unit’s individual numbers soon thereafter, but the part of the company that absorbed Alternative Investments lost $20.1 billion in 2008, according to the bank’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Citigroup, the nation’s third-largest bank, received $45 billion in TARP bailout funds that year.
Photo: White House via Flickr
6. He spent time in the State Department before joining Obama’s cabinet.He was the Deputy Secretary of State under Hillary Clinton for nearly two years before Obama tapped him to replace Peter Orszag as the Director of the OMB. That was where he first outlined the administration’s deficit-reduction proposal, including returning to Clinton-era tax rates on the top 2 per cent of incomes. In the 2012 budget, he also proposed $400 billion in savings through non-security discretionary spending freezes and $78 billion in defence cuts while lowering corporate tax rates to 25 per cent.
Via National Journal, Lew prefers a careful approach to budget-cutting:
“I describe budgets as a tapestry: When it’s woven together, the picture amounts to our hopes and dreams of a nation.”
7. He was promoted to Chief of Staff in early 2012.
Obama replaced outgoing Bill Daley with Jack Lew last January, when criticism on Lew’s Citigroup tenure started to intensify. Along with Director of Legislative Affairs Rob Nabors, Lew immediately became one of Obama’s most-trusted allies and took a leading role in the debt-ceiling negotiations of 2011. NPR detailed how some of his forward-thinking steps gave the White House the edge in the fiscal cliff talks this year:
“The White House was very forward-looking and strategic in the way they shaped the sequester,” [former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden Jared] Bernstein says. “This is a very tough situation for Republicans, in no small part because of the skill of the negotiators from the Democrats’ side.”
For instance, in making sure that programs like Medicare, Pell grants or food stamps are not on the chopping block when the automatic spending cuts hit. Instead, it’s defence spending and the Bush-era tax cuts that are at risk — things that are Republican priorities.
Bernstein says Lew gets a lot of the credit for that.
“Jack Lew’s fingerprints are all over the parts of this sequester that protect vulnerable people, whether it’s exempting the entitlements or many of the things that help low-income families,” he says. “One of the things Jack always deeply understood was just how important that role of government is for people who are retirees, for people who are poor, for people who aren’t connected to the economy and the market in the way that a lot of Republicans envision everybody is, but they’re really not.”
If confirmed, Lew will be tasked again with leading the Obama team in talks on the next round of fiscal issues — the debt ceiling (again), the sequester and the appropriations budget.
8. Conservatives and Republicans really dislike him.
Politico’s Manu Raju detailed why some Republicans could look to block his appointment — because, quite simply, they do not like his views or how he negotiates.
It wasn’t always that way. The feelings began stemming after Lew’s role in the debt-ceiling negotiations. In fact, during the negotiations, Lew was praised by, of all people, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor:
“No one was more prepared and more in tune with the numbers than Jack Lew. He was always very polite and respectful in his tone and someone who I can tell is very committed to his principles.”
But now, Republicans say they feel that Lew has no interest in “hearing GOP concerns.” It comes after Lew reportedly scoffed at a GOP proposal to make the estate tax rate permanent.
“We’ve got to have a person who has credibility with the leaders of the American and world economy, someone who has credibility with the Congress, and I would feel like Mr. Lew’s nomination would be a mistake,” Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions told Politico.
9. He doesn’t believe deregulation of Wall Street led to the financial collapse.
During his 2010 confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee, Lew told the panel that he did not believe Wall Street deregulation played a major part in the financial crisis. He said he doesn’t “personally know the extent to which deregulation drove it, but I don’t believe that deregulation was the proximate cause.”
10. He has a really weird signature.
Via New York Mag’s Stefan Becket:
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