President Obama’s decision to nominate Jack Lew to replace outgoing U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner could indicate that financial reform is taking a backseat, as Lew’s track record is devoid of any evidence to the contrary.
A pre-recession press release announcing Lew’s role as COO at Citigroup said that he would “oversee coordination between the operations, technology, human resources, legal, financial and regional departments,” despite recent media claims that he played a major role at Citi, The Huffington Post reports.
Lew’s nomination to COO at Citigroup, which was bailed out in 2009, was recommended by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who knew Lew through their work together during the Clinton administration and who served on Citi’s executive committee in 2006.
Rubin led efforts in the 1990s to deregulate the financial industry, which set the stage for the most recent financial crisis. Lew said during a 2010 Senate hearing that he did not think deregulation was the “proximate cause” of the financial crisis, an indication that he will be unlikely to push for increased regulation in coming years, according to The Huffington Post.
Lew’s background is also significantly different from Geithner, who spent most of his career at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and has been portrayed as having strong Wall Street ties. While Lew has little experience in the financial services sector, he oversaw three budget surpluses during the Clinton administration and negotiated bipartisan Social Security reform under the Reagan administration.