News / USA

Lew Seen Outside Mold of Past US Treasury Secretaries

White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew (L) speaks alongside outgoing U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at the White House, January 10, 2013.
White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew (L) speaks alongside outgoing U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at the White House, January 10, 2013.
VOA News
Jacob Lew, U.S. President Barack Obama's choice to be the next Treasury secretary, is outside the mold of the usual choices for American finance chief, the official with his signature on the country's green-hued currency.

Jack Lew

  • Current White House chief of staff
  • Director of Office of Management and Budget 1998-2001 and 2010-2012
  • Principal domestic policy advisor to House Speaker Thomas O'Neill from 1979 to 1987
  • Began career in Washington as a legislative aide in 1973
  • Born in New York in 1955
Most secretaries of the Treasury have been established economists from the country's most prestigious universities or Wall Street finance executives. Lew has made his mark in Washington, serving stints as Obama's budget chief and most recently as his White House chief of staff.

The dean of the Hofstra University business school in New York, Patrick Socci, said the contrast in Lew's background is a "radical shift" for the Treasury.

“He's just coming with a different tool kit. He’s certainly an intelligent man, absolutely," he said. "And he certainly has certain skills, but it’s just not the typical set of skills that one would expect in a secretary of the Treasury.”

Socci questioned whether Lew will have the standing to talk with American corporate executives about how to boost the sluggish growth of the world's largest economy.

“I don’t think he has the gravitas to sit with CEOs of major corporations to talk about the business environment, and how to move commerce along and create jobs,” he added.

Mark Vitner, the senior economist for the large Wells Fargo Bank, said he does not see any problem in Lew's nomination being confirmed by the Senate.

“I think it’s a very safe choice by the president because Lew is likely to represent the administration’s view on economic policies very well and that’s going to be important very soon as we negotiate all the debt deals that are going to come due in March," he said.

Vitner said Lew's lack of an extensive Wall Street background or credentials as an economist will not matter.

"He’s going to be thrown right into the mix and I don’t know that the lack of experience is the same thing as the lack of knowledge,” Vitner said.

Lew, however, does face one challenge, altering his signature to make it passably recognizable for use on U.S. currency. At the moment, his signature on government documents consists of a series of looping swirls.

But Obama joked that he ordered Lew to make sure that least one letter of his name can be recognized.

The 57-year-old Lew has engaged in contentious tax and spending negotiations with Obama's Republican opponents in Congress. If confirmed by the Senate, Lew will face immediate contentious negotiations with Congress over raising the country's $16.4 trillion borrowing limit and spending cuts set to take effect in March.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid