Steep automatic spending cuts slated for March 1 could stall the US economic recovery, Jack Lew, the nominee for US Treasury secretary, told Congress Wednesday.
Lew, who faced a grilling in the Senate Finance Committee in confirmation hearings, warned that the $85 billion sequester, programmed cuts to begin at the end of the month if Congress cannot find a more moderate compromise, would hit economic growth.
"Even as we move forward with deficit reduction, we need to make sure we leave sufficient room for critical investments in education, research, and infrastructure that we need for our economy to grow and compete globally," Lew told the Senate panel in prepared remarks.
"We also have to avoid doing anything to degrade our national security or derail the economic recovery through abrupt moves in the short term.
"That is why we cannot allow the series of harmful automatic spending cuts known as the sequester to go into effect on March 1. These cuts would impose self-inflicted wounds to the recovery and put far too many jobs and businesses at risk."
Lew, the former White House chief of staff, was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Timothy Geithner, who stepped down on January 25.