Jack Lew is a liberal who worked for Speaker Tip O’Neill and studied under beloved progressive Sen. Paul Wellstone, but he was also the chief operating officer of a Citigroup unit and doesn’t fault deregulation for the shoddy economy.
The president says Lew was chosen by his predecessor, William Daley, who offered a surprise resignation after one year on the job.
Shahien Nasiripour of The Huffington Post reported in 2010 that Lew testified to the Senate that he did not believe deregulation caused the financial meltdown:
Lew, a former OMB chief for President Bill Clinton, told the panel that “the problems in the financial industry preceded deregulation,” and after discussing those issues, added that he didn’t “personally know the extent to which deregulation drove it, but I don’t believe that deregulation was the proximate cause.”
Lew, who headed President Clinton’s Office of Management and Budget during the period when Clinton signed off on the major deregulation of Wall Street and the telecommunications industry, made a fortune while at Citi. That same Huffington Post report notes that his 2009 bonus alone amounted to nearly a million dollars.
When he announced his new chief of staff, Obama declared, “Jack’s economic advice has been invaluable and he has my complete trust, both because of his mastery of the numbers, but because of the values behind those numbers.” —PZS