White House defends Treasury nominee

President Obama isn't concerned that his pick for a high-level post at the Treasury Department could receive a compensation package totaling tens of millions of dollars if he leaves his investment bank to join the administration, the White House said Monday.

Antonio Weiss, the president's nominee as Treasury undersecretary for domestic finance, has drawn scrutiny from Senate Democrats who are skeptical of the $21.2 million in stock and deferred pay he is reportedly set to make in upon exiting his position as head of global banking at Lazard.

But press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that Weiss had "deep expertise in the financial markets and economic issues."

"This is somebody who has a very good knowledge of the way that the financial markets work," Earnest said. "And that is critically important when you're asking somebody to take on a position in the Federal Government that has such a significant bearing on those markets."

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSchwarzenegger says he would 'absolutely' help Biden administration Disney chair says he would consider job in Biden administration if asked Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill MORE (D-Mass.) has signaled opposition to Weiss's nomination because Lazard has helped structure corporate inversions, a practice by which U.S. companies buy and merge with an international partner to avoid taxes. Among Lazard's most high-profile deals was a deal in which Burger King reduced its tax obligation by merging with Canadian fast food chain Tim Horton's.

An aide to Warren also told The Huffington Post that the senator was worried Weiss did not have sufficient experience to oversee the implementation of the Dodd-Frank law passed in the aftermath of the financial collapse.

But Earnest said Weiss shared Obama's view that the tax code should be simplified and that the inversion loophole should be eliminated.

"He is somebody who has spent some time thinking about some of the issues that the President believes are critically important," Earnest said. "For example, in 2012, Mr. Weiss co-authored a report called reforming our tax system and reducing our deficit."