by Linda Beale
Senate Confirms Lew at Treasury
The US Senate confirmed Jacob Lew as Treasury secretary by a 71 to 26 vote (with 20 Republicans voting with Democrats) late Wednesday. See Jeremy Peters,Senate, in a more affable mode, backs Treasury nominee, New York Times (Sept. 27, 2013).
I’ve covered my reservations about Jack Lew in prior posts. Most notably, I view him as too eager to accommodate Wall Street and the GOP demands for cuts to benefits of safety-net programs, rather than standing firm. As many have pointed out, Social Security would be perfectly fine if we removed the cap so that people were paying the tax on most of their income, rather than allowing millionaires to pay on what amounts to a de minimis amount of their income. Medicare is a good program that is better at holding costs down than our overly costly privatized health care system. On Medicare, what we need is real measures to address the rent-seeking behavior of hospitals (including so-called “non-profits”) and doctors and insurance companies, not reductions to benefits.
Bernie Sanders seems to agree with me. As the Times story reports, he noted Lew’s affinity with Wall Street as a real negative.
“We need a secretary of the Treasury who does not come from Wall Street but is prepared to stand up to the enormous power of Wall Street,” Mr. Sanders said from the Senate floor. “Do I believe that Jack Lew is that person? No, I do not.”