Jack Lew and NYU made out like bandits. Why?

This is the first time I’ve ever sent around a Wall Street Journal editorial, but when you’re right, you’re right—and the Journal is 100% right to note the very bad smell rising from the Lew/NYU/Citigroup entanglement.

Sure, this is a partisan attack. It’s the Journal. And the other major paper digging into Lew’s affair with NYU is the New York Post. Rupert Murdoch owns them both—and, in this case, it’s a damned good thing, because “the liberal media” won’t touch this scandal, as it reflects so badly on Obama and the Democrats.

Whatever’s driving it, this piece is solid. Here’s Obama’s pick to run the Treasury Department, and he can’t recall the terms of his own compensation as executive VP at NYU? Why did a “non-profit” university shower millions on a Wall Street player while jacking up tuition, cutting back financial aid, and freezing salaries, slashing benefits and raising rents for faculty and staff?

And why are Obama and the Democrats, and “the liberal media,” going for a goniff like Jack Lew—whose main accomplishment at NYU, aside from getting rich, was busting the graduate students’ union (a tidbit that the Post and Journal haven’t noted yet)?

In any case, the Journal’s take on NYU is music to the ears to those of us who teach here: “NYU is a university that gets favorable tax treatment on the premise that it is pursuing an educational mission, not a commercial or political one.”


Updated February 21, 2013, 7:39 p.m. ET
Forrest Gump at Treasury

Jack Lew doesn’t seem to know much about how or why he got paid.

Senate Democrats are in a hurry to confirm Jack Lew as Secretary of the Treasury before anyone notices his biography. Otherwise, liberal lawmakers might be embarrassed voting for a man who represents everything they’ve been campaigning against.

Investor in Cayman Islands tax haven? Check. Recipient of a bonus and corporate jet rides underwritten by taxpayers at a bailed-out bank? Check. Executive at a university that accepted student-loan “kickbacks” for steering kids toward a favored bank? Check. Excessive compensation with minimal disclosure? Check.

Like a financial Forrest Gump, Mr. Lew keeps walking into the frame of the business-political dramas of the last decade. But unlike the lovable movie character, Mr. Lew is playing the villain of liberal financial lore. One very compelling role, highlighted by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), was Mr. Lew’s star turn as an administrator at a university that encouraged students to borrow from his future employers at Citibank.

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