After facing strong opposition from progressive politicians like Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Antonio Weiss, President Obama’s nominee for a vacancy at the Treasury Department, has requested the president not resend his nomination, POLITICO reported.
Warren and other progressives had expressed concern over Weiss’s ties to the financial giant Lazard, which has handled several American corporations’ inversions to avoid paying taxes. His critics also said that Weiss “did not have enough regulatory experience and would be too deferential to the finance industry.”
In his letter declining the nomination, Weiss said he did not “believe that the Treasury Department would be well served by the lengthy confirmation process [his] renomination would likely entail.”
Instead of serving in the original position of Under Secretary for Domestic Finance, Weiss will now act as counselor to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, a position which does not require a Senate confirmation.
After the news about Weiss broke, Sen. Warren released an “oblique statement … never mentioning him by name.”
“We’ve already seen that the new Republican Congress is going to aggressively attack the Dodd-Frank Act. It is critical that the Treasury Department defend the Act from those attacks and push for strong implementation and enforcement of the law,” she said.
Sen. Sanders said that although he harbors “no personal animosity toward Mr. Weiss,”
“I am very glad he withdrew his nomination. The president needs economic advisors who do not come from Wall Street. In fact, he needs advisors prepared to stand up to Wall Street. We need economic policies in this country which ask the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and which create millions of good-paying jobs.”
CREDO, a progressive action group and mobile phone company, got 160,000 member signatures on one anti-Weiss petition sent to senators and made over 1,000 calls to the White House to express opposition to Obama’s nominee, POLITICO said.
“President Obama did the right thing by listening to the demands of hundreds of thousands of supporters from his progressive base,” said CREDO deputy political director Murshed Zaheed. “He must fill this appointment with someone with a track record of fighting for Main Street, not Wall Street.”
Weiss’s refusal to be renominated is a huge victory for progressives, and really 99 percent of Americans. It is an example of how much power and influence that wing of the Democratic Party can have when it actually comes together and fights those beholden to Wall Street. Hopefully this momentum will carry forward and Warren, Sanders, and progressives alike can make some actual progress.