February 13, 2013
Sean Neary/Meaghan Smith
Baucus Says Jobs, Economic Growth Should Be Lew’s Focus as Treasury Secretary
Finance Chairman: America needs a Treasury secretary in place and on the job to navigate the challenges ahead
Washington – At a Senate Finance Committee hearing today to consider the nomination of White House Chief of Staff Jacob “Jack” Lew for Treasury secretary, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) pressed Lew to remain laser-focused on jobs and economic growth and asked Lew to commit to helping with comprehensive tax reform. Senator Baucus said Mr. Lew and the Treasury Department will face tough fiscal and economic challenges. He urged Lew to focus on three objectives if confirmed: boosting job creation, reforming the tax code, and helping make fiscal policy more stable to address the deficit and give families and businesses economic certainty.
“We will count on Mr. Lew’s deep experience and expect him to act as a real partner to help us enact comprehensive tax reform to make the system fairer for families and help U.S. businesses compete and create jobs. With the economy still fragile, we cannot take our eyes off the ball – the economy and job creation. Our economy needs certainty and stability to get back to full strength,” Senator Baucus said. “The March 1 deadline for the sequester is quickly approaching. America needs a Treasury secretary in place and on the job to help navigate the many economic challenges ahead. My hope is that we will pass Mr. Lew out of committee on a bipartisan basis and he will be approved on the Senate floor.”
During the hearing, Senator Baucus said that the next Treasury secretary will need to continue working to boost job creation and economic growth. According to Congressional Budget Office projections, the unemployment rate will remain high – 8 percent in 2013 and 7.6 percent in 2014 – unless Congress and the administration act to boost job creation. Senator Baucus stressed the need for the Treasury secretary to lead the president’s economic team and work with Congress to spark job growth and help small businesses hire.
Senator Baucus said that tax reform will continue to be a top priority for the committee in 2013, adding that the world has changed dramatically since the last tax code overhaul in 1986. He said that as Treasury secretary, Lew will be in a position to partner with the Finance Committee to help make tax reform a reality.
Lew agreed with Senator Baucus that the American people want tax reform to happen, and said he sees it as an opportunity to simplify the code for families and allow businesses to spend more time focused on their own operations, rather than on tax compliance. He added that tax reform can attract investment and help make U.S. businesses more competitive.
The Senate Finance Committee is already hard at work on tax reform, having held more than 30 hearings over the last two and a half years.
Senator Baucus also said that as Treasury secretary, Lew must help end the roller coaster of fiscal crisis after crisis that has weighted down the economy with uncertainty. Achieving more stability in fiscal policy and addressing the deficit in a balanced way, the senator added, will give families and businesses confidence and boost the economy’s outlook.
The Finance Committee will next allow time for Lew to respond to follow-up questions from committee members. Once that period is completed, the committee will meet to vote on Lew’s nomination. If his nomination is approved, it will then go to the full Senate for consideration.
Lew has been confirmed by the Senate three times before, twice as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and once as deputy secretary of State. In both of the two votes held during the current administration, Lew’s Senate confirmation was unanimous either by voice vote or unanimous consent.