From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt . . .
Meet Our New Treasury Secretary Nominee, Mr. Doodling Know-It-All
President Obama plans to nominate White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew as his next Treasury secretary, choosing a trusted adviser with deep experience in the nation’s budget challenges and in the legislative warfare that will test Obama’s second term, according to people familiar with the matter.
So much for that private-sector outreach in 2011-2, eh? Lew’s predecessor as chief of staff, William Daley, was supposed to facilitate connections to the private sector. Instead of getting a Treasury Secretary with extensive experience in financial markets, we’re going to get one with extensive experience in expanding government control and manipulation of markets. I’ll bet Wall Street will be overjoyed with this development . . . but probably not surprised.
Lew reportedly angered both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner during the administration’s debt ceiling battle in 2011. The New York Times, in aprofile last month, said those negotiations “ended uncharacteristically badly” and that Boehner’s office viewed him “as an uncompromising know-it-all.”
So when President Obama delegated the lead role in the latest fiscal cliff negotiations to the current Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, it was widely seen as a move to preserve the remaining goodwill toward Lew, in advance of his appointment.
Say, what kind of reputation does Lew have on the Hill?
Several Republicans said Tuesday they don’t view Lew as a man interested in hearing GOP concerns. One aide called him “tone deaf” in understanding the compromises that Republicans could accept during high-stakes talks.
“No matter what you’re proposing or no matter what compromise you’re trying to forge, he comes at it from a position of, ‘Whatever you want, I have to be against,’” the GOP aide said. “It doesn’t advantage him in the negotiation, he doesn’t get a different policy outcome than he would otherwise. It just irritates people. . . . It’s as much personality as anything else.”
[Nebraska Sen. Mike] Johanns said it’s also about policy, saying a Lew choice would be “controversial.”
“I just think there are economic policies in this administration that haven’t been well received, and Jack Lew is in the middle of that,” he said.
“We’ve got to have a person who has credibility with the leaders of the American and world economy, someone who has credibility with the Congress, and I would feel like Mr. Lew’s nomination would be a mistake,” [Alabama Sen. Jeff] Sessions said.
Finally, our currency could soon feature a signature that looks like this:
Kevin Roose of New York magazine says the scribble that represents Lew’s actual signature reminds him of:
– a Slinky that has lost its spring
– one of those Crazy Straws you get at Six Flags
– Sally Brown’s hair in Peanuts
– a slip of paper in Office Max that people use to try out new pens
Frank J.: “According to handwriting analysis, Jack Lew has the mental capacity of a five-year-old — high for an Obama appointee.”