The new WH Chief of Staff and Citigroup
Yesterday, the White House announced Daley’s departure — he will now co-chair Obama’s re-election campaign, which basically means raising huge amounts of money from his Wall Street friends — and unveiled his replacement as Chief of Staff: Jacob Lew. In 2010, Lew became head of the Office of Management and Budget when Peter Orszag left and then, a couple months later, accepted a multi-million dollar position as a high-level Citigroup official. Lew has spent many years in various government positions, but he has his own substantial ties to Citigroup. Here is what Lew was doing in 2008 at the time the financial crisis exploded, as detailed by an excellent Huffington Post report from last year:
[Lew] oversaw a Citigroup unit that profited off the housing collapse and financial crisis by investing in a hedge fund king who correctly predicted the eventual subprime meltdown and now finds himself involved in the center of the U.S. government’s fraud case against Goldman Sachs. . . .
[I]t is his few years at Citi — in particular the one year he spent at its then-$54 billion proprietary trading, hedge fund and private equity unit — that’s likely to raise the most eyebrows in the coming weeks as Lew faces a Senate confirmation hearing.
Especially his unit’s investments in a hedge fund that bet on the housing market to collapse — a reality suffered by millions of American homeowners.
For his work at Citigroup, work that included betting on the housing collapse, Lew received a salary of $1.1 million. After Citigroup received its $45 billion taxpayer bailout, Lew — two weeks before joining the Obama administration — received another $900,000 from Citigroup as a bonus. This was revealed only in 2010; in 2009, when Lew first joined the administration as a State Department official, both he and the administration refused to say if he had received a post-bailout bonus from Citigroup (at the time, there was a huge political scandal over Wall Street executives receiving large bonuses despite needing taxpayer bailouts). There’s certainly nothing illegal about betting on a housing market collapse, but it’s quite symbolic that those who made millions of dollars from the crisis are now running government policy.
Lew (like so many key Obama officials) also participated in the orgy of Wall Street de-regulation that took place in the 1990s when he served as Clinton’s OMB head; after leaving Citigroup to join the Obama administration, he unsurprisingly said in response to questioning from Sen. Bernie Sanders that he does not believe deregulation contributed to the financial crisis. The New York Times today says that Lew “has built a reputation as a pragmatic liberal who believes Democrats must compromise with Republicans on long-term deficits in order to forestall draconian cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.” The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein was a bit more blunt: Lew “has emerged as one of the members of the Obama administration Republicans prefer working with.” Whatever else one might want to say, Lew, a fairly standard-issue Democrat with less of a “centrist” reputation than Daley, is a perfect fit for this administration.
Here is another chance for OWS to show they really mean what they say. They won’t affect the outcome of the GOP primaries (or the election in November) but this might be doable.
Block the nomination of Jacob Lew.
This guy is a perfect target. The job of White House Chief of Staff does not require Senate approval but if OWS is really serious about breaking the revolving door between the White House and Wall Street and if they have any muscle at all they might be able to raise enough hell that they succeed in getting Obama to withdraw Lew’s name.
I’ll sit down while I’m waiting. I’m sure for reasons I don’t understand (having never attended an Occupation or tried the Koolaid) that OWS can’t do something like this. I mean we wouldn’t want them to get tainted by politics or anything, right?