Obama's Treasury Secretary Nominee Gets Free Pass on Cayman Islands Investments

Posted: Feb 14, 2013 7:42 AM

Remember when Mitt Romney was repeatedly berated by President Obama and his campaign team for having perfectly legal investments in the Cayman Islands? As a reminder:

Romney has large investments in notorious overseas tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. He had $3 million stashed away in a Swiss bank account that was closed in recent years for fear of political embarrassment.

It turns out, President Obama's former Chief of Staff Jack Lew, who has been nominated to replace Turbo-Tax Timonthy Geithner as Treasury Secretary, also had large investments in "notorious overseas tax havens like the Cayman Islands." Not to mention Lew took a huge bonus in 2009 just after the financial collapse from a bank that was bailed out by taxpayers. Even Dana Milbank at the Washington Post can see the irony:

It’s a bit, well, rich that Obama chose as his new Treasury secretary a man who received a big corporate payout for dubious work and who socked away money in the Cayman Islands.

This awkward fact pattern forced a role reversal Wednesday on Capitol Hill, as Obama’s nominee, Jack Lew, came before the Senate Finance Committee for his confirmation hearing. Republicans expressed outrage about his compensation and his investment — in other words, giving him the Mitt Romney treatment. And Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), an outspoken foe of offshore tax havens, helped Lew defend himself.

In Washington, where you stand on an issue depends on where you sit.

Lew, who was White House chief of staff while Obama’s campaign was pummeling Romney over his pay and taxes, received a $945,000 bonus in January 2009 after a brief tenure at Citigroup — just as the bank announced huge losses and took a taxpayer bailout. Lew also invested $56,000 in a Citigroup venture-capital fund registered in the Cayman Islands — registered in the very building, in fact, that Obama labeled “the largest tax scam in the world.”

So, when President Obama talks about "closing loopholes" for the rich who can afford fancy accountants who "take advantage of" the tax code, is he talking about Democrats too? Or just rich and evil Republicans? Mitt Romney never took a bonus from a company bailed out by taxpayer dollars, but Obama backed Jack Lew did.

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