The Corner

Elections

Dimon or Warren for Treasury Secretary? They’re Not Exactly Interchangeable

This item in Mike Allen’s morning newsletter, reporting that Joe Biden confidants are privately discussing potential leaders and Cabinet members for his White House, is a little odd:

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren as Treasury secretary could help unite the party.

  • Jamie Dimon — chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and mentioned over the years as a potential presidential candidate — would also be considered for Treasury.

Jamie Dimon (who is recovering from heart surgery) and Elizabeth Warren are more or less on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to Democratic views on economics. (Dimon said early last year, “My heart is Democratic but my brain is kind of Republican.”)

In fact, they’ve specifically addressed the economic views of each other. In November, Dimon said, “She uses some pretty harsh words, you know, some would say vilifies successful people.” Meanwhile, in December, Warren suggested that Dimon and the rest of the Business Roundtable don’t really mean it when they said companies have obligations beyond maximizing shareholder profits. “If Jamie Dimon thinks it’s a good idea for giant corporations like J.P. Morgan Chase to have multiple obligations, he and I agree. Then let’s make that the law.”

As Treasury Secretary, Dimon would probably want to enact the Democratic agenda in a way that is amenable to Wall Street and minimally disruptive to America’s business community. By comparison, a Treasury Department run by Elizabeth Warren would want to hunt down and destroy people like Jamie Dimon.

The fact that both Dimon and Warren can be mentioned as a potential Treasury Secretary illuminates a bit about how Joe Biden has become that blank slate candidate who invites others to project their ideals onto him. There is no hard-and-fast preexisting Biden philosophy on economics. Biden’s campaign message is more or less, “let’s just be Democrats again.” But there’s a wide range of options; a short while ago, Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg appeared to represent the two extremes among views on Wall Street and the business community within the Democratic Party. Nominating Joe Biden represents punting and resolving those differences after the election.

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