US President Barack Obama has made Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner the lead White House negotiator in crisis budget talks with congressional leaders aimed at averting the fiscal cliff.
"He's the lead negotiator for these talks as designated by the White House, but it's obviously a team effort with several officials," a source close to the matter said Monday.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news, saying Geithner was viewed on Capitol Hill as a straight-shooter with a better chance of brokering a deal than Jacob Lew, Obama's former budget chief, who has burned his bridges with some Republicans.
If no deal is reached before the end of the year, a poison pill of tax hikes and massive spending cuts, including slashes to the military, automatically comes into effect with potentially catastrophic effects for the fragile US economy.
Geithner has reportedly spent months preparing for the fiscal talks, set to begin this week in earnest in Washington.
Geithner will be joined by White House budget and tax experts, including Lew, now Obama's chief of staff.