Jack Lew's Lack of Honesty May Rattle Markets

Jack Lew's Lack of Honesty May Rattle Markets

Markets and investors hang on a Treasury Secretary’s every word and promise. 

That, says the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, makes President Barack Obama’s Treasury nominee Jack Lew a weak choice, given his penchant for telling mistruths:

It is not only a matter of personal integrity, but it also goes to how markets, investors, businesses and Congress perceive what he says. You just can’t have this sort of thing in a Treasury secretary. Think of some of the people who have held that job in recent years (e.g. James Baker, George Shultz, William Simon, Lloyd Bentsen, Robert Rubin, Henry Paulson). Whatever their policy perspectives or errors, they were honorable men whose word (if not our currency) was always good as gold. You can’t say that about Lew.

As Breitbart News has reported, Mr. Lew’s history of making misleading or false statements is well established. Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee Jeff Sessions (R-AL) says Mr. Lew’s prior testimony before his committee contained “the most direct and important false assertion during my entire time in Washington.” And in a Wednesday tweet, Power Line’s John Hinderaker put it even more bluntly: “Jack Lew is a liar and a shameless partisan hack. The Senate should not confirm him as Sec of Treasury.”

It’s not just conservatives who are unhappy with Mr. Lew’s Treasury nomination; liberals like self-described socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) say they will oppose Mr. Lew’s nomination as well. In 2009, Mr. Lew bagged a nearly one million dollar bonus from bailout recipient Citigroup, precisely the kind of Wall Street bonus Mr. Obama has railed against. That will likely not sit well with other liberal senators.

Ms. Rubin points out that the Washington Post has twice awarded Mr. Lew’s statements four Pinocchios:

There was Lew’s out-and-out misstatement that the Republicans had prevented a budget from being passed in the Senate, which Lew claimed required 60 votes. That earned him four Pinocchios from my colleague Glenn Kessler.

Then there was his out-and-out falsehood that Social Security is “entirely self-financing.” No it’s not, as factcheck.org pointed out.

Let’s not forget when Lew gave the president an assist in earning four Pinnochios for falsely claiming Congress proposed the sequester:

[In the presidential debate] the president categorically said that sequestration was “something that Congress has proposed.”

[Bob] Woodward’s detailed account of meetings during the crisis, clearly based on interviews with key participants and contemporaneous notes, make it clear that sequestration was a proposal advanced and promoted by the White House.

Whether because of Mr. Lew’s lack of relevant Wall Street experience, or because of his history of mistruths, early indications are that Wall Street is unimpressed with the Lew nomination. “I’ve talked to a bunch of investors and it’s seen as a net negative going from [Tim] Geithner to Lew,” senior political analyst at Guggenheim Partners Chris Krueger told Fortune. “Who does Wall Street want? Not Jack Lew.”

Wall Street veteran Don Marron says, “Lew will be more of an unknown at a time when you don’t want unknown.”