President Obama Nominates Jack Lew as Treasury Secretary

Obama heaps praise on outgoing secretary Tim Geithner despite slow recovery.

President Obama has nominated Jack Lew, left, to replace Timothy Geithner, right, as Treasury Secretary.

President Obama has nominated Jack Lew, left, to replace Timothy Geithner, right, as Treasury Secretary.


President Barack Obama nominated his chief-of-staff Jack Lew to replace Tim Geithner as Treasury secretary on Thursday, amongst jokes and a glowing review of Geithner's tenure.

If confirmed, Lew's loopy signature will grace new legal tender and an image of his penmanship made quite the mark on the Internet yesterday for its sloppiness.

"I had never noticed Jack's signature and when this was highlighted yesterday in the press, I considered rescinding my offer to appoint him," Obama joked during remarks at the White House.

The event was marked more by the president's praise for Geithner's leadership during tumultuous economic times, though, than by humor.

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"We were barely two months into the financial crisis, the stock market had cratered, the housing market had cratered as well, bank after bank was on the verge of collapse; worst of all, more than 800,000 Americans would lose their jobs in just that month and the bottom was not yet in sight," Obama said of the state of affairs when Geithner took over.

"When the history books are written, Tim Geithner is going to go down as one of our finest secretaries of the Treasury," he said.

It's a glossy review for a man heading the country's economic policy during a recession who's slow recovery threatened to derail Obama's re-election.

But Obama's send-off to Geithner and nomination of Lew suggests he's satisfied with the work his administration has done and will continue to pursue similar economic philosophies and strategies.

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"The fact is, while a lot of work remains, especially to rebuild a strong middle class and offer working folks pathways to rise into the middle class, our economy is better positioned for tomorrow than most of those other countries hit by the financial crises," he said.

Obama also highlighted Lew's economic bona fides, praising him for his work as a congressional staffer in helping President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neill accomplish bipartisan Social Security reform and his budget role in the Clinton administration.

"Under President Clinton he presided over three budget surpluses in a row. So for all the talk out there about deficit reduction and making sure our books are balanced, this is the guy who did it three times," Obama said.

Lew, who has held a variety of public and private sector positions, has been confirmed by the Senate five times already in his career and is widely expected to be again.

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Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee which will oversee the nomination, said he expects Lew to detail deficit-reduction plans when he comes before the panel.

"Since Mr. Lew participated in numerous budget negotiations with Congress and with four consecutive years of over $1 trillion deficits, the American people deserve to know not only that this nominee is qualified for the job, but also what policies the White House supports to get federal spending under control," he said in a press release.

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Corrected on : A previous version of this story misspelled Tim Geithner’s name. It has been updated to correct the error.