The president made the official announcement at the White House on Thursday. Lew, the White House Chief of Staff, would replace exiting Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who is set to leave by the end of the month. President Obama highlighted Lew’s experience of more than three decades in public policy making, including serving as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
“I trust his judgment. I value his friendship. I know very few people with greater integrity,” said Pres. Obama during his prepared remarks. “Over the years, he’s built a reputation as a master of policy who can work with members of both parties and forge principled compromises.”
As the president sang the praises of both Lew and Geithner, others were not so adamant in approving Obama’s nominee. Kudlow cited the Obama administration not confirming if it will submit a budget before the Feb. 4 deadline as legally required as reason why Lew’s paucity of qualifications is “completely irresponsible.”
“You know, this whole thing is kind of centered around the Senate, which hasn’t done a budget in 1,351 days — so whatever that is, four years,” the CNBC anchor said on the radio. “Now the White House might not even submit a budget, and now the White House had taken the budget director and chief of staff and put him over the Treasury, where Jack Lew is completely — and I mean completely unqualified to be Treasury secretary.”
Kudlow went onto explain that Lew has no experience in international, financial and currency experience and he “ripped off Citibank for a couple of million dollars.”
“I mean, there’s about a million people — give me a phone book, and I’ll find somebody more qualified for Treasury Secretary than former OMB director Jack Lew. This is all of a piece. It is completely irresponsible,” added Kudlow.
Nevertheless, it is expected that he will be confirmed in the Senate, since the Democrats are the majority party, which is still rather “regrettable.” He noted that Lew is “to the left of Geithner” and “is a big taxer.”
Kudlow isn’t the only one baffled by the appointment.
Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, the top GOP member on the Senate Budget Committee, criticized the president’s decision to tap Lew and issued a brief statement that went straight to the point:
“Jack Lew must never be secretary of Treasury,” said Sen. Sessions.
The Alabama Senator said Lew made “outrageous and false” claims during the budget deliberations in 2011, according to the Daily Caller. At the time, Lew said Obama was “not adding to the debt anymore.” Lew attempted to justify the statement at a Senate hearing when he said the administration was referring to federal spending that does not count towards interest payments. He later repeated the claim again.
Other high-ranking Republicans preferred to wait before they make their final decision on Lew. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch urged Lew to summarize the administration’s ideas to tackle the national debt and what should cut and be reformed.
“It’s imperative that Mr. Lew outline the administration’s plans on tackling our unsustainable debt, what areas of federal spending should be cut, and what kind of reforms – from our tax code to our entitlement programs – are needed to get our fiscal house in order,” explained Hatch in an interview with Fox News.
Although he does not maintain extensive Wall Street experience, financial experts say his involvement in budget deliberations would suffice and, as Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sander said, “Lew is a Washington lifer whose expertise is politics.”
Sanders confirmed on MSNBC that he will not be voting for Lew, even though he predicted he would be confirmed.