President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated White House Chief of Staff and "Wall Street insider" Jack Lew to become the next Treasury Secretary, succeeding Timothy Geithner—a move that ensures Wall Street interests will continue to be prioritized over those of the American public, critics warn.
Before working for the Obama administration as Chief of Staff, Lew worked as managing director and chief operating officer of Citi Global Wealth Management and then Citi Alternative Investments from 2006 to 2009.
Robert Weissman of Public Citizen reports today that Lew's position at Citi included management positions involving "aggressive, speculative betting."
The last thing the Obama administration needs is to continue having Wall Street insiders and fellow travelers shaping its economic policy. Unfortunately, [Jack] Lew has deep Wall Street connections [...]
...there’s good reason to worry that it has helped shape his views, or, in any case, that he reflects a Wall Street perspective on key economic and policy issues. For example, at a 2010 confirmation hearing, he told the Senate Budget Committee that he did not believe deregulation was a proximate cause of the financial crisis.
On Thursday, Senator Bernie Sanders expressed extreme concern over the nomination saying Lew will not "stand up to corporate America and their powerful lobbyists and fight for policies that protect the working families in our country."
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 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.
Sanders added that virtually all of Obama's key economic advisers have come from Wall Street.
And Sarah Anderson for the Institute for Policy Studies adds:
Lew was the chief operating officer of Citigroup's Alternative Investments unit from 2006 through the crash (he left in 2009) and he should reveal more about what he did there. This should also apply to other top Treasury leaders. Since Lew, a former head of the Office on Management and Budget, is considered more of a budget guy than a financial markets guy, there are rumors that President Obama is planning to install a Wall Street executive as his deputy.
"Jack has my complete trust," Obama said at the White House ceremony Thursday.