Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hen (Temporarily) Withdraws From Chicken Coop

Senator Elizabeth Warren (with a little help), that mean troublemaker from Massachusetts, has gone and done it again (video from The Young Turks/Secular Talk).


Jennifer Bendery at The Huffington Post reported yesterday

Wall Street banker Antonio Weiss has asked President Barack Obama not to renominate him to a top Treasury Department post because of the fight being waged against him by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other Democrats.

First reported by Politico, Weiss wrote to Obama over the weekend saying that he didn't think the Treasury Department "would be well served" by the lengthy confirmation process his nomination would likely entail, given the level of Democratic opposition he has faced. Weiss, who had initially been nominated as undersecretary for domestic finance, has instead accepted a job as a counselor to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, a post that doesn't require congressional approval....

The White House was not pleased Weiss was pressured to resign and the investment banker will instead be handed the position of Counselor to the Treasury Secretary.  Bendery continued

In Weiss' new role, he will provide Treasury officials with advice on domestic and international issues, including financial markets, regulatory reform, job creation and fostering broad-based economic growth, according to Lew's statement.

The news is a major victory for Warren and progressive groups who have been criticizing Weiss's nomination since November, when Warren first wrote an op-ed railing against the revolving door between Wall Street and government regulators. She argued that Weiss, a senior banker at financial giant Lazard whose work centered on international mergers, isn't even qualified for a job that involves overseeing consumer protection and domestic regulatory functions at Treasury....

Warren said Monday that it is imperative for Treasury to focus its energy on strengthening the enforcement of consumer protections on Wall Street.

"We’ve already seen that the new Republican Congress is going to aggressively attack the Dodd-Frank Act. It is critical that the Treasury Department defend the Act from those attacks and push for strong implementation and enforcement of the law," she said in a statement. "The risk of another financial crisis remains too high, and we should be strengthening financial reforms, not rolling them back to benefit Wall Street.”

In recent weeks, more than half a dozen Democratic senators announced they couldn't support Weiss for the post because of his overly close ties to Wall Street. The progressive activist group CREDO, meanwhile, collected more than 160,000 signatures on a petition to senators urging them to oppose Weiss.

Politico's Ben White writes

“It’s really a shame,” said Tony Fratto, partner at Hamilton Place Strategies and a Treasury and White House official under President George W. Bush. “It’s embarrassing for the Obama Administration. Terrible for Treasury — including the eventual under secretary, who will have the preferred nominee in the building. It’s terrible for Weiss, to leave his career behind and not get the job. The things we put nominees through only to be upended by ill-informed, myopic demagoguery. The White House should have fought for him.”

"That's rich," Daily Kos' Joan McCarter comments, "coming from one of the officials who oversaw the worst economic crisis the nation has faced since the Great Depression, caused by a banking industry he and his fellow Treasury officials failed to regulate." Still, Fratto is correct- it is terrible for Weiss (explanation below from Mike Papantonio with Thom Hartmann), for as Bendery added

Weiss also stood to gain $20 million from Lazard if he got confirmed for the Treasury post, a payout for not going to a competing financial group. That left some uncomfortable that Weiss would be inclined to give favorable treatment to his former firm.

Weiss is far less experienced in domestic finance than in promoting corporate inversions, in which a company based in the USA gains major tax advantages by combining with a foreign company and thereby renouncing its citizenship (explanation below from Mike Papantonio with Thom Hartmann). He now will be placed in a position requiring no congressional approval. Given the right's complaints a few years ago that the President had acquired innumerable czars, there now will be cries of condemnation in the coming days from Republicans outraged that yet another Wall Street figure  will find a home in the Obama Administration.   When that happens, look for a blizzard in Key West.

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