By Washington standards, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Jack Lew. Lew was announced this morning as Treasury Secretary-designate by President Obama.
If confirmed, he will replace Tim Geithner. Geithner is the present embattled leader at Treasury who many argue was consistently a day late and a dollar short in addressing the needs of average Americans during the country’s worst financial crisis in eight decades. During Geithner’s tenure, black and Latino wealth fell to the lowest level ever recorded.
And that’s the problem. Lew’s part of Washington’s failed consensus on the budget and financial issues. Their fundamentally unfair approach holds that working class Americans should bear a disproportionate share of fixing the nation’s financial woes. This despite the fact that, as I’ve written before, the deficit was caused almost entirely by tax cuts which disproportionately benefited the rich.
To be frank about it, the government needs more revenue to get the economy going again and to provide economic opportunity for everyone through smart investments in transportation, housing, education, and scientific research. But that’s not what’s on offer from either the White House nor Capitol Hill right now. Spending cuts have outnumbered tax increases by almost 3-to-1 in budget agreements over the past year.
Don’t get it twisted. No one can argue that Lew isn’t infinitely qualified for the job. His A1 resume spans both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Lew was the federal government’s budget director not once but twice. He’s hardworking and decent beyond belief. But Lew’s not what we need right now. As Obama’s current Chief of Staff, he helped broker the “fiscal cliff” deal which could actually harden existing inequities.
Rather than a product of the DC machine, Americans require a Treasury Secretary who will put real people first and fight for economic opportunity despite calls for austerity. Given Lew’s nomination, we’re not likely to get it.