If Gary Gensler sounds a lot like Elizabeth Warren, it’s not by accident but by design. He needs the powerful progressive senator in his corner to fulfill his ultimate, career-fulfilling goal, which, according to sources, is having his signature on the dollar bill as treasury secretary.
Gensler just took the job as Securities and Exchange Commission chief. But people who have seen him in action for years as he served in various Treasury posts and as a commodities regulator in the Obama administration say his bureaucratic ambition knows no bounds. He’s thinking bigger than being the guy who runs what is essentially an investor-protection agency.
That’s where the firebrand Massachusetts senator comes in.
Gensler is fully aware of the enormous power Warren wields in the Democratic economic policy circles, and he has been making inroads with her since his time in the Obama administration, if not earlier.
Warren’s star first rose during the 2008 financial crisis when she went on an anti-bank crusade.
Since then, she has spread her anti-business venom beyond banks to just about every aspect of corporate America. As much as the socialist Bernie Sanders called the shots on the Biden’s administration’s latest $3.5 trillion welfare state-expanding spending blow-out, anyone vying for a top economic job in this White House must pass the Warren litmus test.
When she says jump, the answer is how high.
Gensler has been jumping high for Warren from the minute he took over at the SEC, so high in fact that it’s easy to forget his formative years as a Goldman partner earning gazillions on the fruits of capitalism and deal making.
Warren wants more diversity on corporate boards, and Gensler suddenly pushed for a board-diversity disclosure mandate for public companies.
Warren said nefarious traders might be gaming something called payment for order flow (where discount brokers sell their client orders to Wall Street firms so they can offer cheap or no-commission trades). Presto, Gensler says he will begin to scrutinize the obscure and harmless practice.
Most recently, Warren started railing about swindles in the $2 trillion cryptocurrency business, and, you guessed it, Gensler announced a sweeping crackdown on digital-coin fraud even though the SEC does not really have the statutory authority to do so.
People who worked in the Obama administration’s Treasury tell me Gensler was among a couple of candidates at the top of the list to run the department if Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in 2016. Missing out for the job by a few thousand votes in a handful of states only fueled Gensler’s ambition to reclaim it at his next available opportunity, these people say.
When the SEC post came open with Biden’s election, the uber-ambitious Gensler saw his opening to make it to the Treasury. Biden had selected the former Fed chair Janet Yellen to run Treasury, but at 75 years of age, she will not be there forever given the job’s high burnout rate.
Replacing Yellen at Treasury won’t occur overnight, of course. Gensler needs some lefty policy victories on his résumé for him to push for the job, which he’s busy compiling. More importantly, he needs Warren in his corner, which he’s busy jumping for.
Fat cats shed no tears for Cuomo
The resignation of Andrew Cuomo was supposed to be a blow to the New York business community, including its biggest players in banking and real estate. The soon-to-be former governor billed himself as the last line of defense of big business here. With him gone, the AOC-types in Albany would eat them alive with taxes, regulations and a lot more.
For a time, Cuomo’s pitch made business leaders here rationalize his blind spots, i.e., his temper and egomaniacal nature (they say they had no idea about the groping), his bullying and his uneven policies that included harsh business closures during COVID that nearly destroyed the state’s economy.
But when Cuomo finally resigned, that time had run out. Business leaders said he burned them far too many times in recent years, including the tax increases in Cuomo’s last budget, a total cave to the left that will expedite the flight of high earners and companies from the state. Putting up with his awful presence just wasn’t worth it any longer.
Were they cheering Cuomo’s exit? Not really, because the AOC-types are sure to try and flex their muscles. But the fat cats are hardly shedding tears either. As one business-group leader told me, Cuomo became so toxic to deal with, he didn’t just harass those 11 women cited in the AG’s report, “he harassed everyone.”
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