Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following comment on the President's nomination of Jacob Lew as Treasury secretary. Grassley is a senior member and former chairman and ranking member of the Finance Committee, which will consider the nomination.
"I intend to reserve judgment on the nomination until the vetting process is completed. The Finance Committee has a tradition of thoroughly vetting nominees, and the process works. The Treasury Secretary has enormous powers in ordinary times and even greater responsibility in these troubled times, so the Finance Committee owes the American people all due care and diligence in considering this nomination.
"I'm looking for more forthright dealings with the American public from the next Treasury leader. The Treasury Department in recent years has eroded public trust. Treasury and GM misled the public about GM's repayment of its taxpayer loan. Treasury put up barriers to the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in determining where the bailout money went. Treasury failed to use all the tools Congress provided to limit excessive compensation to executives at firms that received taxpayer bailouts. These actions led to the perception that Treasury put corporate America first and had something to hide from the public. The next Treasury secretary should have the mindset that the public's business ought to be public. Lack of transparency undermines the checks and balances in our system of government.
"It's critical to have a secretary who's a watchdog for U.S. consumers in all matters, including international matters. The Treasury Department is currently in talks with international regulators on the future of the now-discredited LIBOR rate. From what I've seen, Secretary Geithner hasn't done much to support U.S. interests in these negotiations. In fact, the evidence I've seen is that from the beginning, he over-relied on the Brits to correct the problem, only sending a note to his counterparts in the U.K. when he became aware of the manipulation and not acting to help U.S. borrowers. Our next Treasury secretary needs to be able to advocate strongly and effectively for American interests with overseas regulators. I'm looking forward to asking Mr. Lew some questions on these issues when he comes before the Finance Committee."