WASHINGTON » White House chief of staff Jack Lew is President Barack Obama’s expected pick to lead the Treasury Department, with an announcement possible before the end of the week.
White House officials would not confirm that a final decision had been made. But aides did not dispute that Lew is emerging as the consensus choice.
Lew, a budget expert, would bring to the Treasury Department a wide range of experiences in both the public and private sector. He ran the Office of Management and Budget in Obama’s first term, as well as under former President Bill Clinton, and held top jobs at Citi Group.
The 57-year-old Lew first joined the Obama administration at the State Department, where he oversaw international economic issues. A person familiar with the selection process said that experience was particularly important to the president, given the treasury secretary’s key role in coordinating with European allies on the continent’s debt crisis, among other global financial matters.
Lew, an observant Jew who doesn’t work on Saturday, is well-liked in Washington by both Democrats and Republicans. A pragmatic liberal, he has been a key player in several negotiations between the White House and Capitol Hill, including the recent talks to avert the "fiscal cliff."
If confirmed by the Senate, Lew would replace current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who plans to leave around Obama’s Jan. 21 inauguration.
The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the expected nomination ahead of the president.
Lew’s nomination would signal Obama’s intent to keep Treasury close to the White House sphere as Obama engages with Congress on fiscal issues and as the administration continues to implement key aspects of the financial regulation overhaul that Geithner helped shepherd into law in 2010.
The nomination would be Obama’s fourth major personnel announcement since the election. Obama has already nominated Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. This week, Obama nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to be secretary of Defense and John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency.
If Obama taps Lew for the job, the decision could create a domino effect at the White House, creating a vacancy for his chief of staff post that could be filled internally.