Lew: Don't paint Wall Street execs with 'broad brushstroke'

Lew: Don't paint Wall Street execs with 'broad brushstroke'
© Cameron Lancaster

Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewHogan urges Mnuchin to reconsider delay of Harriet Tubman bill Mnuchin says new Harriet Tubman bill delayed until 2028 Overnight Finance: US reaches deal with ZTE | Lawmakers look to block it | Trump blasts Macron, Trudeau ahead of G-7 | Mexico files WTO complaint MORE says he doesn't think all financial sector executives should be categorically blocked from taking over the Treasury.

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Asked at Georgetown University event Thursday whether Wall Street execs should serve in government, Lew said running the Treasury is “enormously important and complicated” and requires bringing together several perspectives.

“I think it’s a mistake to label any group with a broad brushstroke, and I think you have to look at each individual,” he said. “And you need individuals of personal ability, personal integrity and of a varied background because you’re doing many different things.”

Before serving as a deputy secretary of State, Office of Management and Budget director, White House chief of staff and Treasury Secretary under President Obama, Lew was the chief operating officer of Citigroup investment firm in 2006. 

He also served in all but the first month of President Clinton’s administration in several roles and was a policy adviser for former House Speaker Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.).

Lew said Treasury secretaries need to have a strong grasp of financial markets, Congress and international relations, though ”no individual comes in with all of the skills that you have to develop while doing it.”

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE is preparing to staff up his administration. Despite promises to “drain the swamp” of career politicians and corporate interests, several cabinet candidates are reportedly registered lobbyists, senior lawmakers or corporate executives.

They include Trump’s potential Treasury Secretary candidates. Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s campaign finance chair, is a former Goldman Sachs partner and the frontrunner for the job. 

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is reportedly in the running, despite Trump’s campaign attacks on “international bankers.”

Another candidate is House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a seven-term congressman who has fought fiercely against post-recession financial regulation.

Progressive senators have vowed to hold Trump to his “drain the swamp” promise, and have experience fighting several Obama appointments with financial industry ties. They’ve championed “personnel as policy” as a mantra for opposing nominees with Wall Street resumes.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg: Harris 'deserves to be under anybody's consideration' for vice president MORE (D-Mass.) helped lead successful opposition to Antonio Weiss’s 2015 nomination to be undersecretary of domestic finance. Weiss, former global head of mergers and acquisitions at investment bank Lazard, ended up as a counselor to Lew.