Democrats Embrace Lew, Despite Ruffled Sensibilities

Friday, 22 Feb 2013 12:36 PM

By Dan Weil

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Senate Democrats are insistent on confirming Jack Lew as Secretary of the Treasury, even though he may have offended some of their own liberal sensibilities, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial.

"Liberal lawmakers might be embarrassed voting for a man who represents everything they've been campaigning against," the Journal noted Friday.

"Investor in Cayman Islands tax haven? Check. Recipient of a bonus and corporate jet rides underwritten by taxpayers at a bailed-out bank? Check. Executive at a university that accepted student-loan ‘kickbacks’ for steering kids toward a favored bank? Check. Excessive compensation with minimal disclosure? Check."

The editorial contained a humorous comparison of Lew to novelist Winston Groom's beloved character Forrest Gump, played on screen by Tom Hanks.

"Like a financial Forrest Gump, Mr. Lew keeps walking into the frame of the business-political dramas of the last decade," the editorial quipped. "But unlike the lovable movie character, Mr. Lew is playing the villain of liberal financial lore."

The article focused on Lew’s tenure as head of budget and finances at New York University from 2001 to 2006 before leaving for a post at Citibank. While he was at NYU, the school named Citibank as its main private lender for student loans. Citibank then paid NYU 0.25 percent of the value of the loans.

"Mr. Lew and the school say that Citi offered the payments to NYU only after winning a competitive process to offer low rates to students," the Journal said. "Mr. Lew says he doesn't recall much about the arrangement, and he responded to an . . . inquiry by saying, Gump-like, 'I do not believe that I approved the selection of Citigroup as a preferred lender for NYU.'"

Still, nothing from Lew's past or his positions seems to have dulled the Democrats' support for his confirmation.

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