Is Jack Lew the Forrest Gump of Obama’s second-term Cabinet?

posted at 2:41 pm on February 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Funny, I thought that might have been Chuck Hagel, but the Wall Street Journal isn’t talking about candlepower.  Their editorial today notes that Jack Lew, the nominee to replace Tim Geithner at Treasury, has almost literally been involved in everything that Democrats demonized in the 2012 election cycle.  And where financial drama has occurred, Lew manages to pop up like an unwanted nut crunch in a box of chocolates:

Senate Democrats are in a hurry to confirm Jack Lew as Secretary of the Treasury before anyone notices his biography. Otherwise, liberal lawmakers might be embarrassed voting for a man who represents everything they’ve been campaigning against.

Investor in Cayman Islands tax haven? Check. Recipient of a bonus and corporate jet rides underwritten by taxpayers at a bailed-out bank? Check. Executive at a university that accepted student-loan “kickbacks” for steering kids toward a favored bank? Check. Excessive compensation with minimal disclosure? Check.

Like a financial Forrest Gump, Mr. Lew keeps walking into the frame of the business-political dramas of the last decade. But unlike the lovable movie character, Mr. Lew is playing the villain of liberal financial lore. One very compelling role, highlighted by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), was Mr. Lew’s star turn as an administrator at a university that encouraged students to borrow from his future employers at Citibank.

The New York Post has more on that chummy arrangement that helped enrich Lew:

As The Post first reported this week, Lew is under scrutiny for the $1.4 million loan he got from NYU. Lew told the Senate on Wednesday that he got a housing-assistance loan that was “forgiven” over a period of five years, plus another loan.

“That was probably calculated in order to minimize his income tax over that period,” a charity tax expert told The Post.

Lew and his wife used the loan to buy a home in the leafy Riverdale section of The Bronx. Lew has kept the home, which has increased in value from $1.3 million at the time of purchase to $1.8 million now.

Lew revealed the school provided an “annual payment” equal to the interest paid, which seems to indicate the school shouldered almost his entire monthly mortgage expense.

The administration has refused to say whether the school entirely forgave the loan when Lew left in 2006 to join Citigroup, although Lew has revealed that he got a “one-time severance payment.”

“They’re way off the charts,” Jeff Goodwin, a sociology professor at NYU, said of Lew’s cushy perks. “It’s in another world from where we live.”

At the time, Lew earned a salary of more than twice that of Barack Obama as NYU’s executive vice president — more than NYU’s president did, according to the Post.  With a salary of $840K per year, why did Lew need another $1.4 million in loans, which apparently weren’t repaid? Perhaps the non-profit university might wonder about that as well.

The WSJ notes that Citibank became the school’s preferred lender during Lew’s tenure as EVP of operations.  Lew says he didn’t personally approve that decision, but it seems a little coincidental that Lew left NYU for Citibank shortly after that arrangement.  Citibank also paid NYU a fee of 0.25% on all student loans originating at the school in exchange for that relationship.  What happened next?

Anyway, after Mr. Lew had left NYU to work at Citi, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo charged in 2007 that the school’s payments from Citi had not been adequately disclosed to students and that the school’s policy toward Citi created a conflict of interest and violated state laws. NYU settled without admitting any wrongdoing and agreed to a new code of conduct.

I seem to recall that the Obama administration used episodes like this to claim that students were being exploited by banks in the student-loan industry, as part of their effort to eliminate federal subsidies for the private student-loan market entirely. The White House succeeded in that effort, and now wants a man who may have contributed to that exploitation to run Treasury.

Will this embarrass Obama enough to withdraw Lew’s nomination?  Probably not, since the media seems oddly disinterested in Democrats’ 2012 cycle bêtes noires now that the election is over:

We’d have thought this story would offend principled liberals, but then they’re also giving a pass to Mr. Lew’s fabulous compensation from the tax-exempt school. NYU students shoulder one of the highest collective debt burdens in the country as they struggle to afford one of the nation’s most expensive universities. For those who claim after watching Mr. Lew’s confirmation hearing that he doesn’t understand finance, we say: Check out his NYU compensation package. He sure knows how to get paid. …

The Grassley inquiry is unlikely to derail Mr. Lew’s nomination, because Senate Democrats, the White House and most of the media really don’t care. But Mr. Grassley is doing a public service in revealing how liberals redistribute income to themselves. And Mr. Lew is finally delivering educational value to youngsters by providing a lesson for the Obama era: If you want the big bucks, go into the world of taxpayer-backed enterprises.

But don’t forget — media bias is a myth.


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Hmmm, funny, I could have sworn that Obama was the Forest Gump of the Obamanation Administration.

SWalker on February 22, 2013 at 2:43 PM

…THEY ARE ALL UNQUALIFIED!…every jack one of them!

KOOLAID2 on February 22, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Filthy, Commie hypocrites?

Check.

OhEssYouCowboys on February 22, 2013 at 2:46 PM

….boiled shrimp, shrimp gumbo…..thats about all the shrimp there is……

BobMbx on February 22, 2013 at 2:47 PM

You’re doing Forrest Gump a disservice.

He was after all, a war hero, a successful businessman and a ping pong champion .

EnglishRogue on February 22, 2013 at 2:47 PM

We’d have thought this story would offend principled liberals…

It might – if you could find one.

Midas on February 22, 2013 at 2:48 PM

No, Chuck Hagel will have that title wrapped up.

The Jewish lobby is honing the rays from their dumb machine on him right now.

mwbri on February 22, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Obama is surrounded by dummies, by necessity.

It makes Obama appear smart and sane.

It’s just a charlatanic ploy. The Punk is always this. See the symptoms, top/left, too.

Schadenfreude on February 22, 2013 at 2:49 PM

You’re doing Forrest Gump a disservice.

He was after all, a war hero, a successful businessman and a ping pong champion .

EnglishRogue on February 22, 2013 at 2:47 PM

And he knocked the dog-shit out of a long-haired, woman beating, Commie.

OhEssYouCowboys on February 22, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Forrest Gump went back to get Bubba and all his wounded platoon mates. He would have done a better job with Benghazi.

mwbri on February 22, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Hmmm, funny, I could have sworn that Obama was the Forest Gump of the Obamanation Administration.

SWalker on February 22, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Barry is Jenny. Haven’t you heard about his awful childhood?

mchristian on February 22, 2013 at 2:50 PM

EnglishRogue on February 22, 2013 at 2:47 PM

…and such a good soul.

The Punk is a charlatanic diabolic monster.

Schadenfreude on February 22, 2013 at 2:50 PM

It’s Obama’s strategy. He does so many things wrong that the sheer volume of attack material overwhelms whatever strategists that work against him. No matter how much material they throw against him, they feel as if their work is only 10% done. As a result, they pass by the most important chunks…

Archivarix on February 22, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Come on. You KNOW rules don’t apply to Democrats.

Warner Todd Huston on February 22, 2013 at 2:53 PM

“sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks”

ToddPA on February 22, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Were there to be a real Forrest Gump, Obama is it. Without the charm of the movie character, obviously.

I’d take a bullet for Forrest, not a problem. He was a decent person as the character portrayed.

And that’s where I’ll leave it.

Liam on February 22, 2013 at 2:56 PM

I would imagine gump could have written his name so you could read/know who it was? lew signature is worse than any doctor I have ever seen. I don’t want his signature on any of the trillion dollar bills bho plans to make to fund all the krap he wants!
L

letget on February 22, 2013 at 2:56 PM

You’re doing Forrest Gump a disservice.

He was after all, a war hero, a successful businessman and a ping pong champion .

EnglishRogue on February 22, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Also came up with the “smiley” face T-shirt and “shit happens”. I knew Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump was a friend a mine. Jack Lew, you are no Forrest Gump.

msupertas on February 22, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Hmmm, funny, I could have sworn that Obama was the Forest Gump of the Obamanation Administration.

SWalker on February 22, 2013 at 2:43 PM

I’d say Obama was more Chance the Gardner.

Fenris on February 22, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Forrest Gump was an honorable, brave, kindhearted man with a strong work ethic and a sense of decency and his word was his bond. The Obama crew has none of those qualities

ldbgcoleman on February 22, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Hmmm, funny, I could have sworn that Obama was the Forest Gump of the Obamanation Administration.

SWalker on February 22, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Barry is Jenny. Haven’t you heard about his awful childhood?

mchristian on February 22, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Are you trying to suggest that a horrible childhood isn’t every American citizens god given right?

SWalker on February 22, 2013 at 3:13 PM

Investor in Cayman Islands tax haven? Check. Recipient of a bonus and corporate jet rides underwritten by taxpayers at a bailed-out bank? Check. Executive at a university that accepted student-loan “kickbacks” for steering kids toward a favored bank? Check. Excessive compensation with minimal disclosure? Check.

Sounds perfect for the job. After all, isn’t INCOMPETENCE a hallmark for any candidate for a job in this administration?

GarandFan on February 22, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Not Forrest Gump. Keyser Sose.

Mr. D on February 22, 2013 at 3:17 PM

I don’t know who Jack Lew is, however, what’s up with his hair? Is that real?

NJ Red on February 22, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Dumb and mean ass commie nut case Dumb.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on February 22, 2013 at 3:39 PM

How dumb and how mean as commie nut case dumb are they..

CO2/Climate Change, stop coal fired power plants dumb.

http://www.wattsupwiththat.com

Lie to themselves and belive the lies dumb.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on February 22, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Obama administration used episodes like this to claim that students were being exploited by banks in the student-loan industry, as part of their effort to eliminate federal subsidies for the private student-loan market entirely. The White House succeeded in that effort, and now wants a man who may have contributed to that exploitation to run Treasury

Of course they do. Jack Lew did his job to help set up that straw man for Obama to tilt at. Lew was highly successful in creating the kind of atmosphere against which the democrat machine could run. Now, he can reap the rewards of his treachery by ascending to an honored position in the regime. The fact that he enriched himself during that treachery is just a fringe benefit and not a thing to for any of those sycophants in the public relations branch of the DNC (i.e, the MSM) to worry their pretty little heads about.

AZfederalist on February 22, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Hey, where’s Lester?

Thought so. I don’t want to hear another of his holier-than-though bull about how WE aid and abet all of this. His folks are the ones that DO everything he purports to decry. Soros, convicted of insider trading? Not a Republican. Bernie Madoff? Not a Republican. Jack Lew? Not only Not a Republican, he’s the Democratic Treasury Secretary. And Lester is silent – because he shares an ideology neither truly believes.

Jeff Weimer on February 22, 2013 at 3:50 PM

Hey…have you heard that Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has now come out against Obama’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew?

Yeah, it turns out that Hagel is dyslexic and he thinks Jack Lew’s name is Lack Jew.

OxyCon on February 22, 2013 at 3:54 PM

I think you’re thinking of Woody Allen’s character Zelig,

narciso on February 22, 2013 at 3:59 PM

If nothing else, Lew knows his way around the back-alleys of financial malfeasance.

If Obama was going after financial fraud, Jack Lew could be a good nominee – in the same manner as engaging a thief as a security consultant: they know the shortcomings, pitfalls, and holes in the system and the tricks that are used to avoid the watchdogs.

ss396 on February 22, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Forrest Gump was a wholly moral man. There is no one is this administration fit to shine his shoes.

Slowburn on February 23, 2013 at 9:18 PM