President Barack Obama on Monday moved to fill three top jobs at the Treasury Department to help Secretary Tim Geithner manage the federal bureaucracy charged with helping the nation's struggling economy.
In nominating Neal Wolin to be deputy treasury secretary, Mr. Obama now has named or nominated four of the five top jobs at the department, where critics said the new administration has been slow to fill major positions.
Wolin, who will require Senate confirmation, is a Clinton-era official who previously was the department's general counsel. The other two announced Monday were Lael Brainard, a Clinton-era official, to be the Treasury Department's top official for international affairs, and Stuart Levey, who will stay on as the top counterterrorism official at the department.
"I am grateful for the service of these dedicated and talented individuals and have the highest confidence that, under the leadership of Secretary Geithner, they will serve the American people well as we tackle the challenges ahead of us," Mr. Obama said in a statement released Monday evening announcing his intention to nominate them.
Part of the reason these top jobs haven't been filled is some people who were on track to be nominated withdrew their names, including Lee Sachs, who now is counselor to Geithner, a position that does not require Senate confirmation. Others under consideration withdrew under scrutiny or pressure - something Mr. Obama himself bemoaned in anon CBS News' 60 Minutes.
"You know, this whole confirmation process, as I mentioned earlier, has gotten pretty tough. ... It's gotten tougher in the age of 24/7 news cycles," Mr. Obama said.
"And a lot of people who we think are about to serve in the administration and treasury suddenly say, 'Well, you know what? I don't want to go through some of the scrutiny, embarrassment, in addition to taking huge cuts in pay."
When asked whether his administration had offered jobs to people who had turned them down, Mr. Obama replied: "Absolutely. Yeah. And not because people didn't want to serve. I think that people just felt that, you know, that the process has gotten very onerous."
Those nominated Monday have Washington experience.
Wolin most recently served in the White House as a deputy counsel focusing on economic policy. Before that he was president and chief operating officer for casualty operations at The Hartford Financial Services Group.
During President Bill Clinton's administration, Wolin worked as National Security Council lawyer, assistant to the national security adviser and a Treasury Department lawyer. He also worked as an assistant to three CIA directors, as a private lawyer at a Washington firm and as a part-time professor at Harvard University.
Brainard, who will have the title undersecretary for international affairs, most recently founded the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. She was a deputy national economic adviser for international affairs during the Clinton administration and has taught economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
President George W. Bush nominated Levey as the nation's first undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, a job that put him in charge of the department's effort to monitor and break up the flow of money to people intending harm to the United States. He previously worked at the Justice Department on counterterrorism activities. He worked as a private lawyer and clerked for a U.S. appeals court judge.
Levey does not require Senate reconfirmation.