Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has made no secret about the fact that she will oppose President Obama’s nominee for Undersecretary for Domestic Finance for the Treasury Department. She cites Antonio Weiss’ position at Lazard, a global investment banking firm, and his involvement in helping companies renounce their American citizenship in order to get out of paying taxes as the source of her opposition.
As a result, the Beltway media have begun attacking Warren’s stance, with the Washington Post going so far as to say the senator is on a “populist witch hunt.”
“The populists’ case against Mr. Weiss so far amounts to a grab-bag of symbolism and epithets, not a rationale,” wrote the Post’s editorial board. “Nothing in his record suggest that his nomination is less than ordinarily worth the deference the Senate owes, or ought to owe, the president when staffing an administration.”
The problem with the Post’s argument is that basing her opinion on his record is exactly what Sen. Warren has done.
Regarding Lazard’s handling of Burger King’s the Canadian chain Tim Hortons, Warren said:
“This was a tax deal, plain and simple. It was designed to reduce Burger King’s tax burden, and Weiss was an important and highly-paid part of the team … The White House Claims that Mr. Weiss is personally opposed to inversions. Really? Did he work under protest, forced to assist this deal against his will? Did he speak out against tax inversions? Did he call out his company for profiting handsomely from its tax loophole work? The claim of personal distaste is convenient, but irrelevant.”
Regardless of whether or not Weiss’ claims to personally oppose corporate inversions is genuine or convenient, the fact is he profited greatly from his firm’s work on inversion cases and, as Sen. Warren pointed out, never “called out” his company about them. If Weiss was against inversions, why continue to work for a company whose business you oppose so strongly?
The Post’s assertion that Warren and other progressives are opposed to Weiss’ nomination out of “prejudice, stereotypes, and resentment” is absurd. Pointing out that the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington doesn’t help the majority of Americans is simply stating a fact.