Senator Warren took a very public stand in November against President Obama’s appointment of Antonio Weiss as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the Treasury Department, when he announced Mr. Weiss was his personal selection for the job. Elizabeth Warren, not wanting to stand idly by and see yet another Wall Street banker fill yet another important position in charge of overseeing implementation of the ever-crucial Dodd-Frank provisions, publicly went out on a limb declaring a fight against the President.
Guess what? She won.
Over the weekend, Antonio Weiss has decided to withdraw from the nomination. He cited, among all things:
I do not believe that the Treasury Department would be well served by the lengthy confirmation process my renomination would likely entail.
In other words, Elizabeth Warren essentially said, “Meet me in the school yard after lunch.” So, he does what any young boy does when he doesn’t want to get embarrassed in front of the entire school (umm..nation) by possibly getting beaten up by a girl — he goes to the nurse pretending to be sick, so he can go home early.
The White House was not pleased by the announcement. Many felt that he could have received the appointment despite Senator Warren’s objections, because it is a Republican-led congress, after all.
White House spokeswoman Jen Friedman:
We continue to believe that Mr. Weiss is an extremely well-qualified individual, who is committed to the policy goals of this administration and firmly supports the administration’s policies on fostering economic growth and supporting our middle class.
Senator Warren doesn’t see it that way. She sees someone who has helped large corporations escape tax obligations by orchestrating large Wall Street deals, otherwise known as inversions, that rob the American people. In addition to this, Mr. Weiss’s firm, Lazard, where he heads their global investment banking, and gives advice to corporations in this regard, itself is a victim of avoiding taxes.
It, too, has deceptively moved its headquarters “on paper” to Bermuda.
While Mr. Weiss wont be serving in the official position, he will, however, still serve as a “counselor” in the Department. This has caused some to point out how embarrassing it will be for whoever ends up serving in the position. The entire time they are in their role they will be in the company of someone who they know was the President’s first pick. This is a slap in the face to them, they say.
She stood by and said nothing of Obama’s previous appointments. She thinks the President ought to pick his own team. But, she said, enough is enough.
Senator Warren is tired of top government positions going to the banks:
In recent years, President Obama has repeatedly turned to nominees with close Wall Street ties for high-level economic positions. Jack Lew, who was a top Citigroup official, now serves as Treasury Secretary.
The President’s choice for Treasury’s highest international position, Nathan Sheets, also comes from Citi.
For the number two spot at the Federal Reserve, the President tapped Stanley Fischer, another former Citigroup executive.
A Bank of America executive, Stefan Selig, was put in charge of international trade at the Commerce Department.
The President’s two recent picks for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — including his choice for Chairman — are lawyers who have spent their careers representing big financial institutions.
The over-representation of Wall Street banks in senior government positions sends a bad message. It tells people that one — and only one — point of view will dominate economic policymaking. It tells people that whatever goes wrong in this economy, the Wall Street banks will be protected first. That’s yet another advantage that Wall Street just doesn’t need.
The reason why Senator Warren won this show-down is because this woman is not afraid of getting into a fight, certainly not with a big, bad wolf hailing from Wall Street. She’s coming out of the house and blowing them down, instead, leaving them to run for cover inside.
That’s just the kind of representation we need in Congress. Keep those sleeves rolled up, Senator Warren!