Obama's Point Man on Fiscal Cliff Gets to Work

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 19:  (L-R) Office o...

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 19: (L-R)  Jacob Lew and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

With the election decided, the Obama administration and Congressional leaders now face the rapidly approaching fiscal cliff. At the center of the upcoming negotiations on expiring tax provisions, automatic spending cuts, and an increasing national debt, will be Jack Lew, President Obama’s current chief of staff, who many speculate is in line to be the next Treasury Secretary, according to a National Journal report.

Lew, a veteran Washington operative who previously served as OMB Director under Presidents Clinton and Obama, is considered to be “one of the most powerful nonelected men in the federal government.” He is expected to take the lead in building consensus on tax and spending policy among House and Senate Democrats that can also win acceptance with key House Republicans.

National Journal calls Lew a “front runner” for Treasury Secretary should Timothy Geithner leave his current post, “with the thinking that Obama might appoint him shortly after the election to reassure the markets about continuity of fiscal policy, but that Lew would remain in the White House post for budget negotiations until confirmation.”

Though Lew served as chief operating officer of Citigroup Alternative Investments from 2006-2009, the article says that some members of the financial community believe “he’s not one of them” or in the mold of past Treasury chiefs like Hank Paulson, Robert Rubin, and Larry Summers, who have successfully navigated the corridors of power from Wall Street to Washington.

Some observers argue that if Lew becomes Treasury Secretary, “it would send two messages from the administration to Wall Street and the financial community. First, that they don’t have an ally or one of their own in Washington. Second, that the White House intends to keep close watch over tax policy and international financial decisions.”