The worst part of the Jack Lew nomination for treasury secretary is not simply that he has no qualifications, standing or experience in the financial world or international sphere (think G20 and European debt crisis). Nor is it simply that he doesn’t have any seasoned currency opinions (under Obama, the greenback has dropped 10 percent, while gold has doubled).
Yes, these are big disqualifiers. But the real problem is that Lew is a left-liberal Obama spear-carrier, whose very appointment signals a sharp confrontation with the Republican House over key issues such as the debt ceiling, the spending sequester, next year’s budgets and taxes.
From all the way back when Lew was staff advisor to Tip O’Neill, he has been a man of the left. So as treasury secretary, I expect the former Obama budget director to push for trillions of dollars in new tax hikes, absolutely minimal spending restraint and no serious entitlement reform.
Instead of being a fresh face who can generate a clean start for a new slate of fiscal compromises, Lew — who doesn’t play well with the other kids — is going to represent the same old Obama confrontation with the Republican House.
It didn’t have to be this way. As treasury secretary, Obama supporter Larry Fink of Blackrock would have tremendous support from the financial community in the effort to solve our fiscal imbalances. So would budget reformer Erskine Bowles. Or Amex CEO Kenneth Chenault. Or even the outspoken Democratic banker Jamie Dimon.