Jack Lew, the former Chief of Staff in the Obama Administration, is the country’s 76th Treasury Secretary. The U.S. Senate approved him with a vote of 71-26 yesterday and included support from 20 Republicans.
Jack Lew now has the tough job of a finding solution to the “fiscal cliff” set to begin tomorrow.
Jack Lew, 57, will replace Timothy Geithner and will have to hit the ground running. The $85 billion automatic spending cut will start tomorrow, and the temporary suspension of the country’s borrowing limit will also expire within two months. These two factors will require Lew to take some extraordinary steps to avoid America’s fiscal dilemma.
“His reputation as a master of fiscal issues who can work with leaders on both sides of the aisle has already helped him succeed in some of the toughest jobs in Washington,” President Obama said. Jack Lew was nominated by Obama in January 2013. Before working as the Chief of Staff, Lew was the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). He was also the director of the OMB from 1998 to 2001 during the Clinton Administration.
As the Treasury Secretary, Lew will oversee more than 100,000 employees. He will also be the principal adviser to the President on economic, domestic and international financial and tax issues. Jack Lew favors revamping the corporate tax system and supports “sensible reforms in Medicare.”
The federal budget deficit for this year is expected to be $845 billion. It’s the first time in five years that the deficit will be less than $1 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. When Jack Lew was budget chief in Clinton’s government, the country generated a surplus for three consecutive years.
The fiscal cliff could lower the United States’ GDP by 0.6 percent, and would cost about 750,000 jobs this year, says the Congressional Budget Office. However, investors have signaled that the economy is strong enough to face any spending cuts.
Consumer confidence and employment are rebounding, home sales are improving, the S&P 500 Index is up 6.3 percent this year, and the U.S. dollar index is near a five-month high.
Jack Lew’s actions will be closely watched by the economists and investors alike.