Today, in a display of bipartisan comity that only ever appears when the Senate is chest-thumping against Iran, enacting austerity policy, or doing something either meaningless or destructive, the Senate confirmed Obama's Commerce nominee Penny Pritzker in a vote of 97 to 1. That lone dissenter was Bernie Sanders, the best friend working people have in the Senate.
Thank you, Bernie Sanders, for voting against the worst of Obama's nominees.
Thank you, Bernie Sanders, for voting against Jack Lew, who believes that deregulation had no role in the financial collapse. Of course, he would think that because, along with the other Rubinites in the Clinton administration, he worked for Citigroup (birthed by deregulation in 1999), which even gave him a bonus for swinging back through the revolving door. Jack Lew, that lover of austerity and designer of sequestration, was also a handsomely-paid union-buster when he was COO of NYU a decade ago. And then there's the cash stored in the Caymans, vacationing along with Romney's fortune.
Bernie explained his opposition by releasing the following statement:
“As a supporter of the president, I remain extremely concerned that virtually all of his key economic advisers have come from Wall Street. In my view, we need a treasury secretary who is prepared to stand up to corporate America and their powerful lobbyists and fight for policies that protect the working families in our country. I do not believe Mr. Lew is that person.Earlier this year, Bernie Sanders--joined on the left only by Pat Leahy and Jeff Merkley--voted against the confirmation of war criminal John Brennan, Obama's counterterrorism adviser and the architect of the administration's drone wars, to head of the CIA. Back in 2009, Brennan was deemed unconfirmable because of his complicity in the torture regime under George W. Bush. Brennan is both a militant opponent of transparency and a leaky sieve.
“We don't need a treasury secretary who thinks that Wall Street deregulation was not responsible for the financial crisis. We need a treasury secretary who will work hard to break up too-big-to-fail financial institutions so that Wall Street cannot cause another massive financial crisis.
“We don’t need another treasury secretary who believes in ‘deficit neutral’ corporate tax reform. We need a treasury secretary willing to fight to make sure that large, profitable corporations pay their fair share in taxes to reduce the deficit and create jobs.
“We don't need a treasury secretary who will advise the president that he should negotiate with the Republicans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. We need someone who is going to strengthen these programs.
“We don’t need another treasury secretary who believes that NAFTA and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China have been good for the American economy. We need someone in the White House who works to fundamentally re-write our trade policy to make sure that we are exporting American goods, not American jobs.
Sanders released the following statement to explain his opposition:
“While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and the civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans. With regard to the use of drones and other methods employed by the Central Intelligence Agency, I am not convinced that Mr. Brennan is adequately sensitive to the important balancing act required to make protecting our civil liberties an integral part of ensuring our national security.”Last week, Bernie Sanders--along with Elizabeth Warren, Joe Manchin, and Carl Levin--voted against Rubinite TPP-negotiator Michael Froman. I wrote a diary on that, which you can read for more extensive commentary on Froman and reasons why you should be worried about the lack of transparency around the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
And now, Bernie Sanders, who has more integrity than any of his colleagues, voted against Obama's Commerce nominee Penny Pritzker. Who is Penny Pritzker? If you want a deeper understanding, I recommend that you read both Part One and Part Two of Rick Perlstein's take on Pritzker in The Nation. Want a taste? Well, you have your union-busting, your offshore tax shelters and tax evasion, your predatory lending, and your advocacy for the destruction of the public school system. Gee, what more could you want in a Commerce Secretary? Connections to organized crime? Oh, yeah, there's that, too. But Penny's pretty pennies on the campaign give her Obama's full ears and heart.
Bernie released the following statement to explain his opposition:
“We need a secretary of commerce who will represent the interests of working Americans and their families, not simply the interests of CEOs and large corporations. Ms. Pritzker served on the board one of the most anti-worker hotel chains in this country. Workers at Hyatt have been unjustly fired for trying to form a union to collectively bargain for better wages and benefits. Unfortunately, Ms. Pritzker chose not to defend those employees.”Thank you, Bernie Sanders, for having the independence, the good judgment, and the social conscience to vote against these misguided nominees. Bernie Sanders, you are a patriot in the best meaning of the word.