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January 11, 2013

Why Bernie Sanders Objects to Obama's Treasury Nominee

By John Nichols

Sanders, who has a history of breaking with Democratic and Republican presidents on economic-policy issues, says Jack Lew is the wrong candidate for the Treasury post being vacated Tim Geithner, whose bias in favor of Wall Street was such that his 2009 nomination was opposed by Sanders, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold and West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd.

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Cross-posted from The Nation


Bernie Sanders campaigned, hard, for Barack Obama's reelection.

But the independent senator from Vermont is not going to rubber-stamp the president's selection of Jack Lew, a supporter of banking deregulation who has passed back and forth through the revolving door from Wall Street to Washington, as the nation's 76th Secretary of the Treasury.

While Sanders caucuses with the Democrats, he represents the people who elected him. And he swears an oath to a Constitution that requires -- not "allows," requires -- the legislative branch of the federal government to check and balance the executive branch.

One of the Senate's most vital duties is that of providing "advice and consent" on presidential nominations. A president has broad leeway when it comes to naming members of the Cabinet -- arguably broader leeway than in the naming of lifetime appointees to the federal judiciary. But that leeway is not such that senators can or should simply approve every nominee. Advice should be given, and at times consent should be denied -- not just by partisan foes of the sitting president but, sometimes, by allies of that president.

In the hyper-partisan environment of today's Washington, it is common for members of the party caucus affiliated with the president to go along with any pick the president makes. But there are times when principle must prevail over partisanship.

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Submitters Bio:

John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Nichols is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues. He was featured in Robert Greenwald's documentary, "Outfoxed," and in the documentaries Joan Sekler's "Unprecedented," Matt Kohn's "Call It Democracy" and Robert Pappas's "Orwell Rolls in his Grave." The keynote speaker at the 2004 Congress of the International Federation of Journalists in Athens, Nichols has been a featured presenter at conventions, conferences and public forums on media issues sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Consumers International, the Future of Music Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Newspaper Guild [CWA] and dozens of other organizations.

Nichols is the author of the upcoming book The Genius of Impeachment (The New Press), as well as a critically-acclaimed analysis of the Florida recount fight of 2000, Jews for Buchanan (The New Press) and a best-selling biography of Vice President Dick Cheney, Dick: The Man Who is President (The New Press), which has recently been published in French and Arabic. He edited Against the Beast: A Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire (Nation Books), of which historian Howard Zinn said: "At exactly the time when we need it most, John Nichols gives us a special gift--a collection of writings, speeches, poems, and songs from throughout American history--that reminds us that our revulsion to war and empire has a long and noble tradition in this country."

With Robert W. McChesney, Nichols has co-authored the books, It's the Media, Stupid! (Seven Stories), Our Media, Not Theirs (Seven Stories) and Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy (The New Press). McChesney and Nichols are the co-founders of Free Press, the nation's media-reform network, which organized the 2003 and 2005 National Conferences on Media Reform.

Of Nichols, author Gore Vidal says: "Of all the giant slayers now afoot in the great American desert, John Nichols's sword is the sharpest."

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