When Obama nominated current White House chief of staff and former Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary all the main stream press could talk about was his loopy signature.
What they are not amplifying is Jack Lew's Wall Street connections and ties to think tanks which often promote corporate centric policies that harm the U.S. middle class. These DLC like think tanks are left versions of the Heritage foundation and that ilk. They are out to destroy America's middle class come hell or high water.
Senator Bernie Sanders immediately declared a no vote on Lew's confirmation. Sanders even wrote an article, No On Lew, to explain his reasons:
“As a supporter of the president, I remain extremely concerned that virtually all of his key economic advisers have come from Wall Street. In my view, we need a treasury secretary who is prepared to stand up to corporate America and their powerful lobbyists and fight for policies that protect the working families in our country. I do not believe Mr. Lew is that person.
“We don't need a treasury secretary who thinks that Wall Street deregulation was not responsible for the financial crisis. We need a treasury secretary who will work hard to break up too-big-to-fail financial institutions so that Wall Street cannot cause another massive financial crisis.
“We don’t need another treasury secretary who believes in ‘deficit neutral’ corporate tax reform. We need a treasury secretary willing to fight to make sure that large, profitable corporations pay their fair share in taxes to reduce the deficit and create jobs.
“We don't need a treasury secretary who will advise the president that he should negotiate with the Republicans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. We need someone who is going to strengthen these programs.
“We don’t need another treasury secretary who believes that NAFTA and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China have been good for the American economy. We need someone in the White House who works to fundamentally re-write our trade policy to make sure that we are exporting American goods, not American jobs."
On the other side of that coin are the Republicans. Time reports Lew is a defender of Medicaid and has saved it from budget cuts on multiple occasions:
In the original Gramm-Rudman-Hollings “sequestration” talks in the mid-1980s, Lew negotiated the exemptions from automatic budget cuts for Medicaid and other low-income programs. In the 1990s, he again defended Medicaid from the budget ax as President Clinton tacked to the center. And his speakerphone outburst in 2011 was in response to the Republican staffer’s suggestion that Medicaid cuts be added to the revivified sequestration process to avoid debt default.
Think Progress, said Lew's record on cutting social security and Medicare are mixed:
he also worked on former Speaker Tip O’Neill’s (D) staff when Democrats agreed to raise the Social Security retirement age in the 1980s, and he has supported similar changes to Medicare (he and Geithner were known as chief proponents of raising the Medicare eligibility age as part of negotiations).
A more ominous note is the lack of protest from Wall Street over Lew. Considering the lack of regulations being implemented for financial reform, Wall Street's silence isn't a good sign. In fact Jack Lew's private sector experience is being at Citigroup in 2008. COO Lew's unit placed major bets against subprime mortages through hedge fund investments, which initially made money.
Citi paid Lew $1.1 million for his year at Alternative Investments, according to an ethics disclosure report filed in January 2009. He was also eligible for an undisclosed bonus. Lew did not immediately return a call for comment.
His unit, though, lost as much as billions of dollars in 2008 as its bets turned sour. In the first quarter of 2008 alone the unit lost $509 million; the company stopped publicly disclosing the unit's individual numbers soon thereafter, but the part of the company that absorbed Alternative Investments lost $20.1 billion in 2008, according to the bank's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Nation posted twelve questions to ask Jack Lew during the Senate confirmation hearing. They too note the conflation of corporate centric Clinton era policies as being liberal, Democratic or even progressive. Hopefully some Senators will pick up on this list for they ask why Lew supported NAFTA and financial deregulation.
Lew is, as well, the steady defender of deregulation who headed Clinton’s OMB when the previous Democratic president organized the gutting of New Deal–era Glass-Steagall protections against banker adventurism. He hails from the same inner circle as Geithner and Lawrence Summers.
Over and over again current Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner refused to label China a currency manipulator. What about Lew? It seems few know and Lew doesn't have a lot of international experience. Yet from reading the Chinese press, they don't seem too alarmed about Lew, which doesn't bode well for any hope of action.
Republicans are furious over Lew's nomination, which for Americans trying to hang onto their social security and Medicare benefits, might be a good sign. Seems Jack Lew knew how to just say no on the 2011 debt ceiling hostage taking by the GOP.
“To confirm Mr. Lew would be to acquiesce in a policy of dishonesty to the American people,” Sessions said. ”For me, no mea culpa, no excuse, can erase the errors of Mr. Lew.”
Bill Moyer's interviewed Paul Krugman and the below clip are his comments about Lew. Many were promoting Krugman for the Secretary post.
Depression era WPA sponsored murals are a good sign Lew might be the defender of the middle class after all. On the other hand, much of WPA sponsored Depression era art is just plain good. He might simply enjoy beautiful murals the same as hedge fund managers collect precious statues to adorn their estates.
Our guess Jack Lew will be more of the same with a caveat. We believe he is the choice as a warrior in upcoming budget battles. We also believe he is the continuation of bank bail outs, CEO favors and corporate welfare. Most of all one can be assured there will be no action against the too big to fail banks. In other words, Obama's bail out the financial sector and let the victims sink take I term will be the Obama administration's take II. Little will change.