The last thing the Obama administration needs is to continue having Wall Street insiders and fellow travelers shaping its economic policy. Unfortunately, Jacob Lew has deep Wall Street connections, having worked before joining the Obama administration as managing director and chief operating officer of Citi Global Wealth Management and then Citi Alternative Investments.
Lew’s stint at Citi was relatively short – though it involved management positions at a unit involved in aggressive, speculative betting – but 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.
It is imperative that the administration finally break from Wall Street on economic and regulatory policy. Lew’s expected nomination suggests we’re in for more of the same. Hopefully, Lew will prove wrong this worry.
Robert Weissman is Public Citizen’s president. Follow @Public_Citizen for breaking news and insightful commentary.