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January 29, 2015

The Deal Pipeline: Lazard's Weiss withdraws from Treasury nomination

“Antonio Weiss, the controversial nominee for the No. 3 slot at the Treasury Department, on Monday took himself out of the running to be under secretary of domestic finance.

“Weiss had drawn criticism in recent months from some Democrats about his deal record.

“Instead, Weiss is set to join the Treasury Department as a counselor to Secretary Jacob Lew, a position that does not require congressional confirmation. A White House spokeswoman said in a statement that Weiss asked the White House not to retain his nomination and that he wanted “to avoid the distraction of the lengthy confirmation process.”

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“He added that Obama should appoint “progressive economic thinkers” such as former Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan or Dean Baker, a co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Dorgan, while in the Senate, was unsuccessful in his efforts to ban so-called “naked credit default swaps,” which are derivative investments set up by two investor groups that have no insurable interest but are betting on whether another bond will default. Baker has been a leading advocate for a so-called financial transaction tax, which has support among some Democrats, but he was never able to advance even when Democrats controlled Congress and the White House during the height of the financial crisis.

“Dennis Kelleher, president of the consumer advocate group Better Markets, raised concerns about the move, arguing that the country would have benefited from an “open, public Senate confirmation process” and that installing Weiss in a “very senior position” at the Treasury Department is unfortunate for the American people.

“The country would have benefited from an open, public debate about the Wall Street-centric view that what is good for Wall Street is really good for America,” Kelleher said.”

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Read the full The Deal Pipeline article by Ronald Orol here

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