Self-professed socialist Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) will not vote to confirm Jack Lew as Treasury Secretary, becoming the first senator to oppose President Obama’s pick from the left.
“At a time when the middle class is collapsing and millions of workers are unemployed, I do not believe [Jack Lew] is the right person at the right time to serve in this important position,” Sanders said in a statement, citing Lew’s experience on Wall Street and his alleged willingness to reform entitlement programs as disqualifying factors.
“As a supporter of the president, I remain extremely concerned that virtually all of his key economic advisers have come from Wall Street,” Sanders said. “In my view, we need a treasury secretary who is prepared to stand up to corporate America and their powerful lobbyists and fight for policies that protect the working families in our country. I do not believe Mr. Lew is that person.”
Lew headed an investment unit at Citigroup in 2008, during the height of the financial crisis. He made nearly $2 million that year, including a $945,000 bonus, which he received after the banking giant was awarded a $45 billion taxpayer bailout.
Sanders peppered Lew with questions about the financial crisis during his 2009 confirmation hearing to become director of the Office of Management and Budget, when Lew infamously admitted: “I don’t consider myself an expert in some of these aspects of the financial industry.”
These issues are certain to come up again during Lew’s confirmation hearing at the Senate Finance Committee.