Senate Republicans "Scoffing" At Jack Lew For Treasury Secretary

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 9 2013 9:01 AM

Senate Republicans "Scoffing" At Jack Lew For Treasury Secretary

157366132
WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 2: (AFP OUT) White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew arrives at the Kennedy Center Honors reception at the White House on December 2, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

As I wrote back in November, chief of staff Jack Lew is going to be the next Treasury Secretary. He has expertise in the thing Obama thinks the next Treasury Secretary needs expertise in (budget matters), Obama likes working with him (which is important, because he and Tim Geithner had a strong rapport and some random outsider can't fill that role), and nobody sticks around in the chief of staff job for that long so unless Lew gets a cabinet job he'll end up burning out and quitting. But Manu Rahu writes for Politico that Lew "has a contentious relationship with some Senate Republicans who are scoffing at reports that he’s poised to get the nomination for one of the most important posts in government."

Josh Marshall counter-scoffs on the grounds that Republicans lost the Senate elections and don't have the votes to stop Lew, but I'm not entirely sure that's right.

Advertisement

Every tradition in the book says a minority of 45 Senators won't just filibuster a cabinet appointment because they happen to dislike the guy. But the current state of filibustering in the United States Senate isn't ratified by tradition either. As recently as 2003, Senate Republicans were able to pass a major Medicare reform with more than fifty but fewer than sixty votes in part because filibustering conference reports was against tradition. Filibustering circuit court nominees wasn't traditional until Bush-era Democrats started doing it. Now both of those traditions are out the window, and there's no guarantee that the traditions against filubustering cabinet secretaries and Supreme Court justices will hold up. If anything, my view is that this is a slope that eventually has to slip all the way.

Now is Jack Lew going to be the issue that breaks this norm? Maybe not. Certainly it will make the GOP look silly if they choose this particular hill to fight on—Lew is mild-mannered, well-respected, and clearly qualified—but we're living in an era of norm-breaking, so don't be shocked if it happens.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

How Movies Like Contagion and Outbreak Distort Our Response to Real Epidemics

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Everything You Should Know About Today’s Eclipse

An Unscientific Ranking of Really, Really Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 11:51 AM It Seems No One Is Rich or Happy: I Looked
  Life
The Eye
Oct. 23 2014 12:48 PM Track Your Bag and Charge Your Phone With This Carry-On Smart Suitcase
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 12:01 PM Who Is Constantine, and Should You Watch His New Show?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.