Sparks are flying ever since Obama announced his nominee, another Wall Streeter, for Treasury Undersecretary for Domestic Finance last week.
Elizabeth Warren spoke out, Wall Street talked back.
So today, the feisty populist from Massachusetts laid it all out in a Huffington Post op-ed: “I believe President Obama deserves deference in picking his team, and I’ve generally tried to give him that. But enough is enough.”
Here’s why she thinks Weiss is a terrible choice for the Treasury:
- His international background: Warren said Weiss is unqualified to work in domestic finance as most of his career has been managing mergers and acquisitions overseas, including eight years in Paris. She said his experience is irrelevant to the Treasury gig.
- His sketchy tax background: Weiss’ company, Lazard, has been involved in multiple tax inversions recently, including the uber-contentious Burger King-Tim Hortons deal. Even his own company, she claims, used a “slimy loophole” to move headquarters to Bermuda.
- Weiss was directly involved in the Burger King deal: Obama said Weiss had nothing to do with the tax side of that deal, but Warren claims “he was right there.” They also said Weiss is personally opposed to inversions. Warren wrote: “Really? Did he work under protest, forced to assist this deal against his will?”
- There are already too many Wall Streeters in government: This is something Warren has written about before (here and here). Today, she said over-representation of Wall Street sends the message that only one point of view will dominate policymaking. She suggested we turn to credit unions, community banks, and regional banks for expertise, as well as the big Wall Street banks.
“Sure, big banks are important, but running this economy for American families is a lot more important,” she wrote.
So who’s got the next volley?