• With: Kim Strassel, James Freeman, Dan Henninger, Mary Kissel


    GIGOT: The Caymans. Let's talk about the Caymans.

    FREEMAN: President Obama is president today, in part, because he destroyed Mitt Romney's character largely with this attack on him as a financier who had investments in the Caymans and --

    GIGOT: Shady.

    FREEMAN: -- was part of the one percent. Shady guy. Suggesting that he was a tax evader or avoider, if not evader?

    GIGOT: And that's Baucus.

    FREEMAN: Max Baucus. We saw him asking the question.

    GIGOT: The Finance Committee chairman.

    FREEMAN: He has spent a career basically attacking the Cayman Islands and other tax havens.


    And now for the president and Mr. Max Baucus to give Mr. Lew a pass. I mean, I suppose you could say now it's great news for the Caymans. They're off the hook, politically. But I think it ought to bother people that this standard that Mr. Obama has set get tossed aside when his political hack needs a job.


    GIGOT: It exposes the phoniness of the whole Caymans issue --

    FREEMAN: Absolutely.

    GIGOT: as brought up and then the phony outrage of it.

    Mary, what else have we learned about the -- what Jack Lew knows or thinks about taxes, finance, other things?

    KISSEL: Well, he is, as Dan suggested, a "yes man." He believes in the a balanced approach to tax reform which actually --

    GIGOT: That's the president's policy.

    KISSEL: The president's policy, which basically means eliminating deductions, so you effectively raise taxes so you can keep government spending. He doesn't support the sequester. He wants government to keep spending in the short term. Downplayed the return to Glass-Steagall, wants to implement Dodd/Frank to the hilt.


    KISSEL: This is effectively the president's agenda.

    GIGOT: Well, but that -- why would we expect anything different? Don't we expect that of the nominee?

    HENNINGER: We expect that of this president, which is to say -- usually, treasury secretaries represent the American economy. This treasury secretary is going to represent the public sector, not the entire private economy. And when he goes up there on Capitol Hill, as Mary suggests, he's going to be defending Barack Obama's public-sector agenda. And that's what his expertise is.

    GIGOT: OK. But that's -- I guess that's kind of what we expect. But I guess the larger question for me would be, does he know enough about the financial industry? Does he know enough about the international economy that, if we get into trouble, he be the kind of troubleshooter or leader who --


    HENNINGER: No, he does not.

    GIGOT: -- people together. So he does not. He did not show any of that, enough of that knowledge?

    KISSEL: No. He's not the guy that's going to forge the next Bretton Woods agreement.

    GIGOT: Which -- yes, the currency change after World War II.

    FREEMAN: It might be unprecedented. Prior to Tim Geithner, what you had is usually, either people who had great success in business or real intellectual standing. He was sort of a government plumber in the financial machinery. Now, we move from him to Jack Lew, who doesn't even have that expertise. And it's really -- it's hard to find a treasury secretary in our history that knows so little about --


    GIGOT: Let's hope he has the speed dial of people like Paul Volcker and Robert Rubin and others --


    -- because I think he's going to need them.

    FREEMAN: Oh, he'll have Rubin's. You can be sure.

    GIGOT: -- get them on at home.


    All right, when we come back, the Catholic Church after Pope Benedict. The ailing pontiff shocked the world this week with news of his resignation. So what's next for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics?


    GIGOT: Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his final public mass in St. Peters Basilica on Ash Wednesday two days after his shock announcement that he would leave office on February 28th. The 85-year-old pontiff said he no longer had the strength to carry out his papal duties, becoming the first pope since the Middle Ages to resign.