Morning Read: Sanders Sole Lefty to Oppose Lew as Treasury Secretary | Off Message

Morning Read: Sanders Sole Lefty to Oppose Lew as Treasury Secretary


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By comparison with some of President Obama's other second-term cabinet picks (ahem, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel), Jacob Lew's confirmation Wednesday as treasury secretary was relatively painless.

As the New York Times put it, the Senate "easily and, for the most part, affably" confirmed the former White House chief of staff and budget director to the post.

Not joining in that affability?

You guessed it: Vermont's terribly unaffable Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Sanders was the sole kind-of-sort-of-Democrat (he caucuses with and mostly votes with the party) to oppose Lew. The independent joined 25 Republicans in casting a "nay" vote. Another 20 Republicans backed Lew, making the final vote 71 to 26.

So what's Bernie's beef?

Sanders' office said in a statement that the senator has "major policy differences with Lew" on Wall Street deregulation, entitlement programs, offshore tax havens and trade policy. Translation: Lew ain't no man of the people.

Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, the Times reported, Sanders said, "We need a secretary of the Treasury who does not come from Wall Street but is prepared to stand up to the enormous power of Wall Street. Do I believe that Jack Lew is that person? No, I do not."

If you're so inclined, you can read Sanders' full floor statement here

As we noted in January, this isn't the first time Sanders opposed Lew. He voted against Lew's confirmation to lead the Office of Management and Budget in November 2010. Sanders also opposed outgoing treasury secretary Timothy Geithner's nomination to the post back in 2009.

Vermont's other senator, Patrick Leahy, joined with his fellow Dems to back Lew on Wednesday. Leahy's office did not release a statement on the vote, but spokesman David Carle said in January that Lew "has deep and unequaled experience and knowledge about budgetary matters."

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