Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) unleashes her frustration with President Obama’s continuous appointment of Wall Street cronies to high-level positions in an op-ed piece for The Huffington Post,
“I believe President Obama deserves deference in picking his team, and I’ve generally tried to give him that,” wrote Sen. Warren. “But enough is enough.”
Warren’s justifiable anger comes from the announcement by President Obama that his nominee for Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the Treasury Department – a position that “oversees Dodd-Frank implementation and a wide range of banking and economic policy making issues, including consumer protection – is Antonio Weiss.
Why does Weiss’s appointment bother her so much?
Because he’s “the head of global investment banking for the financial giant Lazard. He has spent the last 20 years of his career at Lazard — most of it advising on international mergers and acquisitions.”
“Neither his background nor his professional experience makes him qualified to oversee consumer protection and domestic regulatory functions at the Treasury,” wrote Warren.
“As someone who has spent my career focused on domestic economic issues, including a stint of my own at the Treasury Department, I know how important these issues are and how much the people in the Treasury can shape policies. I also know that there are a lot of people who have spent their careers focused on these issues, and Weiss isn’t one of them.”
Warren, who has only voted against one other of Obama’s appointments – a former Citigroup exec, said she is also concerned about Weiss’s history of working on deals for companies going through corporate inversion, or renouncing “their American citizenship and [turning] their backs on this country simply to boost their profits.”
When Burger King purchased the Canadian-chain Tim Horton’s, “Weiss was right there, working on Burger King’s tax deal,” wrote Warren. And “Lazard isn’t just the President of the Corporate Loopholes Club — it’s also a client. Lazard moved its own headquarters from the United States to Bermuda in 2005 to take advantage of a particularly slimy tax loophole that was closed shortly afterwards. Even the Treasury Department under the Bush administration found Lazard’s practices objectionable.”
And while the administration and Treasury have both publicly and strongly denounced these inversions, “they undercut their own position by advancing Mr. Weiss.” Senators have already called the move hypocritical, and for only the second time in 30 years, the Independent Community of Bankers opposed a presidential nomination.
And overall, Warren is just simply alarmed at the sheer number of former Wall Street executives “dominating the Obama administration, as well as the Democratic Party’s, overall economic policy making apparatus.”
“The over-representation of Wall Street banks in senior government positions sends a bad message,” said Sen. Warren. “It tells people that one — and only one — point of view will dominate economic policy making. It tells people that whatever goes wrong in this economy, the Wall street banks will be protected first.”
“It’s time for the Obama administration to loosen the hold Wall Street banks have over economic policy making,” Warren concluded. “Sure, big banks are important, but running this economy for American families is a lot more important.”
Read Sen. Warren’s entire piece at The Huffington Post.