The United States economy has overcome the
financial crisis that President Barack Obama faced on taking office
in 2009, but more progress is needed, Treasury secretary nominee Jack
Lew told the US Senate on Wednesday.
"We're in a better position today, but the work to create a sounder economy and a safer world remains unfinished," he said in a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee.
"Our top priority is to strengthen the recovery by fostering private sector job creation and economic growth while we make sure our economy remains resilient to the headwinds from beyond our shores."
Obama last month named Lew, a long-time Washington insider, to succeed first-term Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who left office on January 26.
Lew, 57, was Obama's chief of staff since January 2012. He previously served as chief of the White House Office of Management and Budget under both Obama from 2010-12 and under president Bill Clinton from 1998-2001.
Lew left government when the left-leaning Democratic Party lost the White House after Clinton's presidency, working as an administrator at New York University and investment banker at Citigroup. He is a New York City native.
Continuing progress in the economy will require increased access for US exports to foreign markets, expanded US manufacturing and "working with our partners around the globe and through the G20 to bolster the international financial system and promote global economic stability," Lew said.
He called for financial reforms to make the economy "less vulnerable to crisis." At the Treasury, he hopes to push for Congress to pass corporate tax reforms to help US businesses compete globally.
Lew touted 2.5 trillion dollars in 10-year deficit reduction achieved over the last two years.
"We can do even more to shrink the deficit over the next decade through a balanced mix of spending reductions and tax reforms, and sensible reforms to Medicare, (a fiscally troubled retiree health insurance scheme,) that will help the programme stay sound in the future," he said.
Echoing Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday in Congress, Lew called for "critical investments" in education, research and infrastructure to help United States "grow and compete."
He urged Congress to act to ease spending cuts scheduled in current law to take effect on March 1, calling the measures "self-inflicted wounds to the recovery" of the economy.
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