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

Sunni-Shi’ite Divide Threatens Middle East Stability

Analysts say ancient dispute that traces back to Islamic Revolution is fueling modern day unrest More

Shifting Demographics Lie Beneath Racial Tensions in Ferguson

As Missouri suburb morphed from majority white to majority black, observers say power structure remained static More

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Restriction is toughest since Soviet era, though critics reject move as patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid