Type to search

No Joke: Romney Considering Disgraced Former Merrill Lynch CEO For Treasury Secretary

Memo Pad Politics

No Joke: Romney Considering Disgraced Former Merrill Lynch CEO For Treasury Secretary


According to The Wall Street Journal, disgraced former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain would be on the short list for Treasury Secretary if Mitt Romney wins the presidential election.

To those who recognize his name, this may seem odd because Thain — who currently runs CIT Group and serves as an economic advisor to Romney’s campaign — is the archetypal out-of-touch “Master of the Universe.” If Romney’s goal is to further offend the “47 percent,” then floating the reprehensible Thain for a top cabinet post is a great way to start.

Thain is best known for presiding over Wall Street giant Merrill Lynch as it lost tens of billions of dollars in the subprime mortgage crisis, leaving the once-venerable firm teetering on the edge of collapse until Bank of America purchased it, with strong encouragement from the federal government. Bank of America would later receive a $20 billion bailout to help it absorb Merrill Lynch’s toxic assets (although, according to Business Insider, 75 percent of that money would go towards bonuses for Merrill Lynch executives.)

In January of 2008, as Merrill Lynch was losing a staggering $52 million per day, Thain chose to spend $1.22 million in company money to redecorate his office. Some of the most notable purchases included:

$87,000 for an area rug in Thain’s conference room and another area rug for $44,000; a “mahogany pedestal table” for $25,000; a “19th Century Credenza” in Thain’s office for $68,000; a sofa for $15,000; four pairs of curtains for $28,000; a pair of guest chairs for $87,000; a “George IV Desk” for $18,000; six wall sconces for $2,700; six chairs in his private dining room for $37,000; a mirror in his private dining room for $5,000; a chandelier in the private dining room for $13,000; fabric for a “Roman Shade” for $11,000; a “custom coffee table” for $16,000; something called a “commode on legs” for $35,000;  “Regency Chairs” for $24,000; “40 yards of fabric for wall panels,” for $5,000; and a “parchment waste can” for $1,400.

Later that year, when Thain was called to Washington along with the heads of the major banks to discuss how the government planned to keep the financial system from completely collapsing, his first question was whether his compensation would be cut.

Any  remaining question about Thain’s priorities was put to rest after Bank of America rescued Merrill Lynch. He unsuccessfully lobbied the board to award him a $10 million bonus for his work in 2008, despite the fact that the company suffered net losses of over $11 billion under his leadership that year.

Given that Romney has repeatedly pledged to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act — which is specifically designed to protect the American financial system from grasping, incompetent CEOs like John Thain — it’s not terribly surprising that Romney is considering him for the top economic spot in his cabinet. It is, however, an almost comically awful idea.

On the campaign trail, Romney likes to claim that it is a moral imperative to rein in spending. If he really believes that, then he shouldn’t be taking advice from a man who bought a $35,000 toilet as his company burned — much less nominating him to run the Treasury.

Henry Decker

Henry Decker was formerly the Managing Editor of The National Memo. He is currently an Online Associate at MRCampaigns.

  • 1


  1. Diogenes67 October 2, 2012

    Nothing to see here. Some top contributor wants Thain in the job so the Romney team will float his name. Just like floating names of potential VP picks.

    1. CAThinker October 3, 2012

      Ok – so the Kochs paid to bring Ryan in… Who’s the guy paying for this one?

      1. Diogenes67 October 3, 2012

        Someone we never heard of..which means he’s smarter than the Koch brothers.

  2. old_blu October 2, 2012

    Surprise surprise Romney and his elite all out of touch with the rest of America.

  3. Jj Jones October 2, 2012

    as opposed to disgraced Treasury Secretary Geithner … great

    1. Justin Napolitano October 3, 2012

      Sorry jl but Geithner was never disgraced. He had a dispute about his payroll taxes; he thought he was an employee of a company and they later said he was an independent contractor. As a contractor he was responsible for both halves of the payroll taxes and subsequently had to pay the addition 7.35% that an employer would usually pay. The additional 7.35% is tax deductible anyway. He never had an income tax problem.

  4. daniel bostdorf October 2, 2012

    Breaking news:

    Ryan on video 6 months ago…check out Huffington Post…

  5. Janet October 2, 2012

    Romney’s choice of candidate Thain sounds like a perfect match for him: big spender, load up the debt, dump the company, get out of town.

    1. Rvn_sgt6768 October 3, 2012

      Exactly what mittey would do and then leave to go be where his money is. We all know none of it is here in the US.

  6. bcarreiro October 3, 2012

    Does it feel good when the money you have was earned by the middle class taxpayers??Do you have any shares in chicken stock???

  7. Dominick Vila October 3, 2012

    The fact that Mitt Romney is considering one of the architects of our 2007-08 financial meltdown for a Cabinet post does not surprise me. Mitt’s decision is consistent with the support morons like Akin, Mourdock, Allen, Mack, Smith and other far right extremists continue to enjoy from the Tea Party. I stopped being surprised by things like this when Rick Scott, the founder and former CEO of Columbia HCA, the healthcare company found guilty of MEDICARE fraud and given the largest fine in U.S. history was elected governor of Florida! It seems that the more crooked and out of touch these people are the more their constituents like them. Amazing!

  8. daniel bostdorf October 3, 2012

    The article is aptly titled No Joke: Romney Considering Disgraced Former Merrill Lynch CEO For Treasury Secretary…

    The former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, Sheila Bair, was present when the major Wall Street bailout/corporate welfare moochers decisions were made. Bair was pushing for substantive accountability from Wall Street moochers and corporate welfare bailout banks. She demanded real protection for homeowners.
    She also was present when the TARP funds were being discussed with these CEOs of the major banks. These bankers who drove our country into the mess created by george Bush et al, were called to Washington for theis highly important meeting with the Treasury secretary.
    Everything was about to go belly up.

    So what do you think Merrill Lynch Thain’s 1st question was?
    It was NOT about how the system could be saved, homeowners protected, leading to the the economy preserved, the integrity of the banks maintained.

    No. He asked if his compensation was going to be cut. Thain just spent more than $1 million putting new carpets in his office, paid for by shareholders—and then by taxpayers.

    This is the mindset of greed and avarice that must be eliminated.

    Romney won’t be elected, but it is a scary thought that Thain would even be considered.

    No joke.

  9. Joan Maurer October 3, 2012

    I do not think the press has done enough to expose who Mitt Romney’s advisors are. They are the same “behind the scene people” who managed to tank our entire economy ruining the dreams of millions of Americans while linning their own pockets. They are the same people who whipped up a fake WMA hysteria to go to war. Under Romney I see a lot of no bid contracts in our future.

    I think more should be done to expose the big porkers that have been at the government trough for a decade. Some $87,000 area rugs need to be pulled out from under people. The administration went lightly on them in 2008-2009 but they are ingrates and they continuously knaw on the hand that feeds them. They are the truly entittled people. They begrudge a small child food while their profitable business is subsidized. Romney needs to put those oil and farm subsidies in his bucket, but he won’t. Your deductions are on the table – theirs are not!

    The President must have a mandate from the voters to begin to clean up the toxic cess pool that is Washington politics. We can start by ensuring that elected officials and their top aids do not immediately participate in the revolving lobbist door. We can eliminate the current fillibuster rules so that a true majority can pass laws. We can go after the toxic “dark money” that is in our politics. We can have universal sugfferage.

  10. cari October 3, 2012

    Of course he can consider a corrupt business man for a cabinet position. He is corrupt and a crook himself. Mitt is a scumbag plain and simple….. and anyone that could vote for him share his values (do anything/say anything) – anything for a dollar.

  11. douglas October 3, 2012

    O course. One crook likes another crook.

  12. ayayaboy October 3, 2012

    Romney is running for president to create and cover loopholes for his own malpractices and those of other millionaires/billionaires. Better stop Romney and Republicans before they hurt your human rights.

  13. mac macey October 3, 2012

    Mitt is wrong but at least we know he’s consistently wrong.

  14. ralphkr October 3, 2012

    Hmmm, I sorta like the idea of a toilet with legs and wonder if it follows you while it is on leash or if it moves independently which would certainly explain the $35K price. Unfortunately, a commode is also a chest of drawers, usually low slung with only two drawers and that destroys the whole wonderful concept.

  15. geewilly October 4, 2012

    Birds of a feather flock together…. Mitt is like Daddy Warbucks and his cabinet picks will all be neo-cons…. rich white guys who send the working class poor to fight & die.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.