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Lew Treasury nomination would signal new budget-focused agenda

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In a few hours, President Obama is expected to nominate White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew as the next Treasury Secretary. He brings a very different type of experience to the job than current secretary Timothy Geithner.

Many Washington observers say in choosing Lew, the President is sending a message about the agenda for his second term. Instead of an expert economist or veteran banker, he’s a Washington insider whose strengths lie in negotiation.

“To me it just signals that the emphasis is not on banking, and not on pretty much the overall economy, per se, but on the budget issues,” says John Silvia, an economist at Wells Fargo.

He says financial regulation will chug forward under other agencies while the White House hammers out long-term spending and federal debt issues.

Sarah Binder at the Brookings Institution says Lew has not been a visible presence at the fiscal cliff table, “but I think his behind-the-scenes role there has really been integral to the White House’s approach,” Binder says.

Jack Lew was a budget director for President Obama, and before that President Clinton. If confirmed as Treasury Secretary, his role as a Presidential confidante and strategist will continue.

Audio Extra: Hans Nichols of Bloomberg News profiles Jack Lew and tells us what a Lew Treasury Secretary nomination could mean for Washington.

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