The secretary of the treasury is the head of the Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also with some issues of national security and defense. The secretary of the treasury is a member of the president's cabinet. By law and by tradition, the secretary of the treasury is fifth in the United States presidential line of succession, in case of some extreme calamity in the United States.
Duties and Functions of the Department of the Treasury
The Department works with other federal agencies, foreign governments, and international financial institutions to encourage global economic growth, raise standards of living, and to the extent possible, predict and prevent economic and financial crises.
The basic functions of the Department of the Treasury include:
- Managing Federal finances;
- Collecting taxes, duties and monies paid to and due to the U.S. and paying all bills of the U.S.;
- Currency and coinage;
- Managing Government accounts and the public debt;
- Supervising national banks and thrift institutions;
- Advising on domestic and international financial, monetary, economic, trade and tax policy;
- Enforcing Federal finance and tax laws;
- Investigating and prosecuting tax evaders, counterfeiters, and forgers.
If you are somewhat over-whelmed by the tasks with the secretary of treasury is charged to manage, you are not alone. The growing complexity of the secretary’s role has changed the nominating process. Between 1969 when David Kennedy was sworn in as secretary of treasury and through 2001 when Larry Summers stepped down, only two of 12 individuals holding the position did not possess a law degree and/or a Ph.d in economics.
Timothy F. Geithner, the current secreatry of treasury, is considered by some to be one of the most qualified secretaries in American history due to his educational pedigree, experience working in the Treasury, role with the International Monetary Fund, and service as the Federal Reserve chairman of New York.
So who should America look to as the next secretary of treasury, here is a non-inclusive look at those considered to be prime candidates to a few out-of-the box possibilities.
Jacob Lew, White House chief of staff. Lew’s upside is his working relationship with the President and background as former director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Neil Wolin, U.S. deputy secretary of treasury. Wolin is Geithner’s pick as his successor according to multiple sources. Wolin formerly headed up Hartford Financial and has both a law degree from Yale and his Master in Economics from Oxford.
Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock. Fink has the Wall Street and Global connections to bring the White House an insider's view of the economy. Fink’s knowledge of the mortgage industry is unmatched which could give him an edge as the nation continues to suffer from record foreclosure and potential foreclosures holding back a strong recovery in housing.
U.S. under Secretary of Treasury Brainard, Former National Economic Council Director Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Treasury Undersecretary Miller and Former Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp Sheila Blair are all qualified candidates who could break the gender barrier.
Brainard is considered one of the top minds in Treasury with extensive international experience. Tyson remains an acclaimed economist who holds excellent political skills honed under service in the Clinton administration. Miller has the experience to run Treasury from day one and is largely in charge of managing the nation’s debt. Blair was a very tough FDIC chairman and remains a vocal critic of Geithner which might play well in any confirmation proceedings.
If you wish to look out of the box, candidates from NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the recently defeated GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney are being circulated.
There is no shortage of technically or politically qualified candidates available to fill the role of Treasury secretary. The question of who our next secretary of treasury will be could turn out to be a function of how the Fiscal Cliff negotiations are resolved. As such, from my conservative viewpoint, I would like to see Erskine Bowles considered for the position.
Bowles served as President Obama’s chair on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. He is the only candidate who has thoroughly examined and proposed a plausible bi-partisan budget formula to stabilize our national debt crisis.
Bowles has the political background to navigate the details which are critical in developing legislation. He has the support of Obama business supporters from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to JP Morgan former CEO John Mack and NY Mellon’s Curtis Aledge.
No matter whom the president’s selects to be the next secretary of treasury let us hope, they can uphold the departments mission statement:
“Maintain a strong economy and create economic and job opportunities by promoting the conditions that enable economic growth….”