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Treasury Secretary: Complacency Biggest Risk for Future Economic Security

Nov. 17, 2016 – The greatest danger today in terms of the country’s future economic security is complacency, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew (L‘83) said at the fifth of McCourt School of Public Policy’s talks on the legacy of the Obama administration.

“It’s to think that we got it right in 2009, and we can take another 50 years before we look at it again,” said Lew, whose talk today was the next to the last of the series sponsored by the McCourt School’s Institute of Politics and Public Service (GU Politics).

“Change happens faster than that – it happens daily, it happens weekly, it happens monthly.” “We cannot sit here today and answer the question, ‘what are going to be the risks 12 months or 24 months from now,’ because the world won’t look the same,” he added. “We have to make sure we maintain the vigilance and the focus on asking those questions, not jumping to the solution that everything should be overregulated, but asking are there threats that need to be addressed.”

He said one of the lasting lessons coming out of the 2008 financial crisis is that those overseeing financial stability in the country have to take that responsibility seriously going forward.

“Otherwise we’ll let our guard down and some other bubble will develop, some other exposure will develop and people will say, ‘how could they let that happen?’ ” he said. “Avoiding complacency, staying on top it, I think is critically important. We’ve done a lot. I think we can be proud of what we’ve done 2008 to now, going forward, we can’t say, 'job done let’s move on.' ”

The Exit Interview series is designed to explore policy successes and challenges in the current administration and give advice to the next president.

Other speakers have included U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and David Simas, assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach.

The final conversation will feature Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.