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The council is currently receiving comments on a controversial framework that proposes stringent new regulations on money market funds. It is also close to imposing additional rules on a handful of large, complex financial institutions meant to ensure they never threaten the stability of the financial system.
Both initiatives could be put on hold as Lew gets up to speed, or a top deputy could be required to play a bigger role.
The 57-year old Lew is considered a quick study.
He was a rising star when he served as a top policy adviser to then-House of Representatives Speaker Tip O’Neill in the 1980s, a Democrat who worked with Republican President Ronald Reagan to reform the tax code and put the Social Security retirement program on more solid footing.
Former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt said Lew could handle any issue and that his lack of regulatory experience was not a problem.
Levitt said Lew was a strong defender of the SEC when Republicans once threatened to cut the agency’s budget over rules Levitt pushed to reduce auditor conflicts of interest. “I would say Jack Lew is probably a better person from an investor’s point of view than anyone I could think of,” he said.
The Chamber of Commerce, the country’s biggest business lobby, and other influential trade and lobby groups also said Lew has the skills for the top U.S. economic post.
Lew’s selection could put pressure on the Obama administration to find a deputy with business and financial experience to help round out Lew’s deep knowledge of Congress and the budget. Current Treasury No. 2 Neal Wolin is expected to depart once he assures a smooth transition is in place.
“It’s important (Lew) has people around him who understand the markets,” said Tom Quaadman, a vice president with the Chamber. “So I think it will be more telling, to a degree, who he brings with him into the department itself.”