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And Lew will not be dealing with anything like the sprawling 2010 financial regulatory law (PL 111-203) that was intended to make the financial system safer and prevent future crises. Implementation of the Dodd-Frank law continues, but many of the most important pieces are done, and it is largely up to regulators including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Securities and Exchange Commission to finish putting the law into effect.
Supporters of stricter financial regulation should be pleased with Lew’s selection, according to Michael Barr, an assistant Treasury secretary from 2009-2010 and an architect of Dodd-Frank. “I think Lew would do a terrific job keeping us on the path of financial reform,” said Barr, who now teaches law at the University of Michigan.
Lew has won praise from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. While he might face some hostile questioning from Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee who are unhappy with Obama’s fiscal policies, he would be expected to be confirmed. The Senate confirmed his nomination as budget director on a voice vote.
Investors are hoping for swift confirmation of whoever Obama nominates as Treasury secretary, particularly with the government having reached its borrowing limit. Obama and his team are facing a potentially nasty confrontation with congressional Republicans as early as next month over a debt limit increase.
“A seamless handing of the baton is pivotal,” Boltansky said, “especially in times of broader market uncertainty like we have experienced during and after the fiscal cliff negotiations.”