WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is expected to name longtime Washington insider Jacob Jack Lew as his next treasury secretary, a post that's sure to be in the spotlight as negotiations commence over raising the nation's debt ceiling and staving off controversial scheduled cuts in federal spending.
Obama is expected to formally announce as early as this morning his pick of Lew, his current chief of staff and formerly the administration's budget director and a top State Department official. Lew would replace Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
In Lew, Obama is seeking a secretary who lacks the luster of a Wall Street CEO or the gravitas of a renowned economic forecaster. But he would get a trusted confidant who has the president's ear and one with extensive experience in the federal budget.
Lew also has not drawn any of the partisan fire, so far, that instantly greeted early reports of Obama's plans to nominate United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to be secretary of state or former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense.
He'd immediately step into the fray. The United States on Dec. 31 hit its $16.4 trillion debt limit, and the Treasury Department has undertaken what are called emergency measures to keep paying the bills it owes to creditors. These measures, however, may run out as early as Feb. 15, raising the potential of a partial default on some U.S. debt, which could disrupt global financial markets.