President Barack Obama nominated White House chief of staff Jack Lew to be secretary of the Treasury on Thursday, declaring his complete trust in an aide with three decades of Washington experience in economic policy and a penchant for shunning the limelight.
"He is a low-key guy who prefers to surround himself with policy experts rather than television cameras," Obama said.
(Read More: What Obama Is Saying by Tapping Lew for Treasury)
Obama announced his nomination in the ornate White House East Room, flanked by Lew and outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The two men and their backgrounds illustrate the nation's changing economic landscape -- Geithner a long time banking specialist with the Treasury and the Federal Reserve who took office in 2009 at the height of the nation's financial crisis; and Lew the budget expert as the government struggles with its debt and deficit challenges.
Obama heaped praise on Geithner for addressing the Wall Street meltdown and shepherding an overhaul of financial regulations through Congress.
"When the history books are written, Tim Geithner is going to go down as one of our finest secretaries of Treasury," Obama said. "I can't think of a better person to succeed Tim than Jack Lew."
Geithner will stay on until Jan. 25, a Treasury official told CNBC.
Lew would take the helm of the government's main agency for economic and fiscal policy just as the administration girds itself for a new confrontation with congressional Republicans over the nation's debt and deficits.