Jack Lew is, by all accounts, a decent guy and dedicated public servant, but like so many of our recent treasury secretaries is so deeply immersed in the old boy nexus of Wall Street and government as to have little comprehension of how, in the midst of a soaring Dow Jones, so many millions struggle to make ends meet.
This was the week of the Big Snub. In Hollywood, Oscar voters turned their backs on Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow, long considered locks for a Best Director nomination for their work on Argo and Zero Dark Thirty respectively. In Cooperstown, steroid era superstars Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were snubbed for the Baseball Hall of Fame -- along with the entire rest of the eligible field. The question now is, will snub fever make its way to Washington? Will Chuck Hagel, and the fresh ideas he'd bring to the Pentagon, be snubbed? How about the gun proposals Joe Biden will be announcing on Tuesday? And will Jack Lew, President Obama's pick for Treasury Secretary, continue that department's long tradition of snubbing Main Street in favor of Wall Street? It's a reminder that what is rejected is often more important than what it selected. Especially in Hollywood and D.C.
Obama likes to surround himself with failures. Geithner set the pattern. He was supposed to be the principal regulator of most of the largest U.S. bank holding companies. He was an abject failure. Lew has gone from failure to failure. He was one of the architects of both of the Clinton administration's disastrous statutory deregulatory actions that helped produce the epidemic of accounting control fraud that drove the Great Recession. Emanuel and Daley were failures as directors of Fannie and Freddie. Obama has put failed anti-regulators in positions where they can best undermine the reregulatory effort that is essential to reduce the risk and harm of future crises.