A bit of a clunker from the normally spot-on Richard McGregor in today’s Financial Times. In a piece about the likely new US Treasury secretary, Jack Lew, MacGregor offers this bit of speculation about Lew’s new role in the Obama administration:
His strong liberal credentials may irk Republicans, but he is well-positioned to sell a large deficit agreement to Mr Obama’s Democratic base, wary of big cuts to social programmes.
First, I don’t think liberals see Lew as their guy at Treasury. More like another ex-Clintonian who got rich working on Wall Street. Someone to the left of Geithner certainly, but not a pugilist for progressive values. He’s there to push the Obama fiscal vision.
And that leads me to my second point: I don’t think there’s going to be a big Obama effort to make deep entitlement cuts. During the debt ceiling talks, the liberal base screamed at the mere possibility of the Obama WH agreeing to alter how Social Security benefits are calculated — a relatively minor change. And it was Lew himself who played a big role in keeping Medicaid out of the sequester. If Obama does decide to go that direction, Lew’s imprimatur won’t matter a bit.
Update: This new piece from the National Journal isn’t going to help Lew’s rep on the left: “The Roots of Jack Lew’s Pro-Wall Street Policies: The new Treasury secretary may be another Geithner—and that could be dangerous for the country.”