Treasury secretaries have long come to Europe to lecture, yet in recent years their dressing-down of counterparts across the Atlantic has had something of a "kettle calling the pot black" aspect to it.
Yes, the U.S. unemployment rate at 7.6 percent may be the envy of many Europeans, but that low number reflects people giving up on the labor market after not finding a job. A steadily declining U.S. labor-force participation rate explains the low unemployment rate.
It also hints at an emerging new reality: The economic challenges and situations of the two great trans-Atlantic regions are becoming strikingly similar.
Both Europe and the United States have substantial fiscal consolidation problems: The United States has a budget deficit of 6.7 percent of gross domestic product, and a debt pile that is 74 percent of GDP.
For the euro area, those numbers are 4.1 percent and 87 percent, respectively.
Both have deep structural problems that need to be fixed. And both suffer from political leaders who, for domestic political reasons, are reluctant to take decisive action to exit the crisis.
Europe, at least, has Merkel, who is forcing the fiscal consolidation process in the rest of Europe.
On the monetary front, I expect Lew to put in his bid for an interest-rate cut when he meets European Central Bank President Mario Draghi in Frankfurt this week. He might get what he wants in the not-too-far-distant future.
But heaven help the new Treasury secretary should he ask Draghi to go for bond purchasing, which is money creation, Ben Bernanke-style.
That simply won't happen. Everyone wants everything from the European Central Bank these days, and there is bound to be a good deal of disappointment.
In that case, expect the Obama administration to use Draghi's refusal to copy the Federal Reserve as yet another excuse for those poor U.S. jobs numbers.
There's no end to this blame game in sight.
Melvyn Krauss is a professor emeritus of economics at New York University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.