Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today explained his vote against the confirmation of Jacob Lew to be Treasury secretary.
Sanders cited major policy differences with Lew on the role that Wall Street deregulation played in causing the recession, his views on too-big-to-fail banks, preserving Social Security and Medicare, cracking down on offshore tax havens and the price American workers have paid for trade agreements that ship jobs to low-wage countries overseas.
"We need a secretary of the Treasury who does not come from Wall Street but is prepared to stand up to the enormous power of Wall Street. We need a Treasury secretary who will end the current Wall Street business model of operating the largest gambling casino the world has ever seen and demand that Wall Street start investing in the job-creating productive economy. Do I believe that Jack Lew is that person? No, I do not."
A supporter of President Barack Obama, Sanders said he is nevertheless "extremely concerned that virtually all of his [Obama's] key economic advisers have come from Wall Street."
Sanders also cited differences with Lew on corporate tax reform. Profitable corporations and wealthy Americans avoid $100 billion a year in U.S. taxes by setting up tax shelters in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas and other tax havens. "Do I believe that Mr. Lew will aggressively crack down on offshore tax havens as Treasury secretary and help us bring in the substantial revenue that we need to reduce the deficit and create jobs? No, I do not."
Sanders is also concerned that Lew will work with the Republicans and some Democrats who want to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits, although a large majority of Americans oppose cutting those benefits.
"In my view, we need a Treasury secretary who will stand up to Republicans and some Democrats in Washington and tell them we will not cut Social Security or Medicare benefits. In fact, we need a Treasury secretary who has the courage to say that to the president as well. Do I believe that Mr. Lew is that person? No, I do not," Sanders said.