Who Knew Jack Lew?

Jacob_J._Lew_signatureWhen 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.

GOP Senator Jeff Sessions is on the warpath against Lew for Treasury Secretary. Seems during Congressional testimony Lew said the $787 billion Stimulus wouldn't add to the national debt.

“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.

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Comments

The signature fascination/focus was a clue something was afoot

That immediate and strange fascination by most media outlets was very strange and telling. Almost as if one outlet was told about it by the White House and Lew's handlers and told it was a great "story." And we all know how since the media is now basically a few massive conglomerates that thrive on less work, less investigative footwork, and peddling PR or party lines so they don't alienate the people they "cover," they ran with it. Meanwhile, while the press complies with their orders or could be predicted to be distracted like 2 year olds, the White House and corporations planned on getting their agenda and its proponents in ASAP. Signatures? It's so scary this is the media. Treasury Secretary of the US, one of the most powerful positions in the US, and this is what the "journalists" look at, not his friends, enemies, position papers, history, views on inflation and deflation and FX and TARP and corporate control of so many facets of our lives?

Would he allow banks caught breaking anti-money laundering sanctions to continue to do business in the US and if so, why should anyone comply with any laws if they could still make massive profits from criminal activity? How does he view enforcement against TBTF and what are his views on TBTF and its friends in general? Should there even be a TBTF at this stage or is it time to break them all up immediately? How does he view Occupy? Student loan bubble? Housing bubble? What are his views on the SEC, CFTC, revolving doors in DC and state capitals, Dimon, Blankfein, Corzine, Greenspan, Glass-Steagall, etc.? What are his views on gold and gold standards, does he believe QE helps anyone and who does it help specifically? So many questions should be asked.

Absolutely derelict in their duties. I'm going to go look at signatures of Treasury Secretaries from years past and foreign equivalents of Treasury Secretaries to see what all those signatures mean and ignore everything else. Sounds like a productive way to spend my time. I'll either be at Reuters or The NYT or CNN writing articles about it.

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some testimony as OMB and history

tells us he did not think deregulation caused the financial crisis, which is false.

I did not mention the trillion dollar coin, but that would be under the Treasury.

Bottom line, Obama is not a Progressive or Populist by any stretch so no surprise the Treasury secretary isn't either.

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Funny how Glass-Steagall seemed to work so well for so long

Only brainwashed folks that need to spout the same lies for their salaries can say Glass-Steagall didn't prevent catastrophe. Investment banking/hedge funds/casinos/dice games in the back of a warehouse shouldn't be backstopped by taxpayers and share the same office space as my savings and checking accounts (ignoring the nonsense about "Chinese Walls" and compliance and "due diligence" that they still parrot but groupthink and bankster conformity + incentives make toothless). Betting trillions on derivatives they created but didn't even understand - how's that for sheer stupidity? And it still goes on. It's like kids stealing small pox samples to win a high school science competition but not knowing what it is or how to control it, collecting the prize, and then unleashing the disease without ever taking responsibility or being punished. These are the same people that claim NAFTA and "free trade" didn't send tens of millions of jobs overseas and is helping hollow out the country and endanger our national security. In fact, they are still creating and promoting even more country-destroying free trade agreements (like TPP). They can say whatever they want, doesn't make it true or make them any less culpable or more intelligent.

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false choice, both parties corrupt

Due to election 2012, plus the absolute pure insanity coming from so many in the GOP, people one again were hoodwinked into thinking Obama is for the people, or even a real Democrat, defined by helping U.S. labor and middle class. Not so, we're simply back to the same terrible agenda started by the Clinton administration, expanded by Bush. It's corporate lobbyists, financial sector demands and not even a global economic meltdown or massive sovereign debt will stop lobbyists and multinational corporations from controlling government.

To wit, I don't think the U.S. trade representative has been announced but you can bet that will be a corporate position, all to push TPP, the mother of disaster NAFTA style trade deals. I just wrote up this month's trade deficit overview and you can bet TPP will make the situation much worse. Beyond the dismantling of Glass-Stegall, I'd say trade agreements really show who is in charge for it anyone with half a brain was basing policy on statistics, they would be horrified at the never ending ballooning trade deficit and do something to stop it all.

Obama has been very good to corporations, passing bad trade deals which are starting to add to the trade deficit.

Actual policies to turn America around and become strong again aren't even mentioned anymore! We get these false choices in the pundit press, real solutions are buried because corporations, lobbyists do not want them.

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its just more of the

its just more of the venetian/medici republic finance structure and agenda, WAKE UP folks and see this for what is really happening, ,.... nothing will happen to change it untill someone comes looking to collect on their debts, ...... and that's going to be a very BAD thing !!!! right now,it doesn't think anyone can do anything about it,which is why it keeps doing it, it believes 100 % that there is no one who can do anything about it, only to find suddenly,it OWE'S someone else,........ who can !!!!!$$$$$$??? !!!!!

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Lew

If you had to hunt the nation high and low to find a worse person than Turbo-tax Timmy, you’d eventually turn over a rock and find Lew peeping up at you.

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