Expect More Wall Street in the White House
President Barack Obama recently nominated Wall Street insider Antonio Weiss to serve as Undersecretary for Domestic Finance at the Treasury Department. Weiss currently serves as Lazard’s Global Head of Investment. The nomination is drawing increasing scrutiny from the president’s own party. Former regulators and community banking groups have also been vocal critics of Weiss, including Sheila Bair who served as Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Strong opposition is growing in the Senate where high-ranking Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren (D – MA), Richard Durbin (D – IL), Joe Manchin (D – WV) and veteran Bernie Sanders (I – VT), have elevated their concerns to the media and White House.
The disagreements among the Democratic Party illustrate the growing split within the party regarding how to manage the financial industry. With mounting support for financial deregulation, especially among Republican members, Congress will likely experience increased tensions regarding banking oversight and regulation. But considering Weiss’s nomination as well as Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s appointment, who was formerly with Citibank, it appears that a greater Wall Street presence in Washington and the White House can be expected.