Why Geithner will stay

November 23, 2009

One residual from Timothy Geithner’s rough confirmation back in January — “Turbo Tax Tim” and all that — is that his political position is probably a bit more precarious than that of the typical newbie treasury secretary.

Not only has Geithner been a frequent target of late-night comedy shows, he’s the public face of the unpopular bank and automaker bailouts. High unemployment rate isn’t helping either.

No surprisingly, a new Rasmussen poll finds that 42 percent of Americans think Geithner has done a “poor” job handling the economy versus 20 percent who rate him “good or excellent.” And
the furor over his handling of the AIG bailout has yanked the competence issue back to the forefront.  So there is little political risk from calling for his resignation, as Representative Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, and several Republicans have done. But there seems to be little White House appetite at this moment for ousting Geithner, who certainly has no plans of his own for a fast exit.

And why would Obama cut him loose when doing so would be tantamount to a vote of disapproval in his own economic policies?

No one has charged Geithner with going rogue, after all. So blame the model, not the man, if you must. Not to mention a quick hook would stink of panic. Top cabinet secretaries of first-term presidents rarely leave before the midterm elections.

Nor does Geithner have much to fear from a whisper campaign to put JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon in the job. Despite the rumors, Dimon doesn’t want the gig. What banker would, given the current populist political climate?

It seems unlikely that radioactive Wall Street will be supplying Geithner’s eventual successor. More likely candidates: Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff; Janet Yellen, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve; Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council; and Roger Ferguson, CEO of TIAA-CREF and former Fed vice chairman.

But the calls for Geithner’s resignation, as well as stunts like the Congressional Black Caucus blocking a key House committee vote on financial reform, indicate a degree of desperation among congressional Democrats. They see high unemployment and dissatisfaction with Obama’s scattered focus on the issue as driving the anti-incumbent mood.

Unlike in sports, in government it’s the players, not the coach, who gets fired. And that’s why some Dems think one way to save their jobs in 2010 is by suggesting that Geithner lose his today.


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Replacing Geithner with Summers is like curing Gonorrhea with Syphilis.

Posted by PwlM | Report as abusive

Under cries to resign, from a republican senator, Geithner stood up , and told it like it was. He spelled out the brutal truth of how the economy was in such mess, and called out the republicans to explain how such neglect was allowed.
He stood his ground like a Man , unlike the republicans who still refuse to “Man up” to their handling of the economy.
“Wall Street got drunk, and we got the hangover” : George W. Bush 2008

Posted by ernest | Report as abusive

Mister James you are a bit naif, this guy stay strong in his place and act as sucessor of the FED Chairman, it’s supported by big wallstreeters actors. Sorry but the populace, unfortunately, count for nothing. It’s sure and firm when grilled by senate commissioners, more that the same Mister Bernanke. He want the power and the power want him.

Posted by john terrone | Report as abusive

Not one man or fifty will undo the consequences of nearly three decades of Reaganomics in less than a year. Geithner is doing all that can be done from his post.

Posted by Netgrits | Report as abusive

Let him stay. He is a crook and an extention of Barry. The current ruling elite are in an exponential self destruct sequence. Geither is doing his part in accelerating the count down.


Posted by Constitutionalist | Report as abusive

If I had to choose, I would pick Janet Yellen. That said, anyone who took the position of Secretary of Treasury as the markets collapsed has an uphill battle ahead of them. I have met Tim Geithner, and he is sharp as a tack. We could have done a lot worse. I might have done things a little differently, but I wouldn’t be calling for his head just yet.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

Replacing Geithner is idiotic. Americans got themselves into this mess with subprime and a laissez faire attitude to the markets. The fact is markets must be regulated and oversight is very much required. What did you expect to happen when you live on credit cards, 1st mortgages, 2nd mortgages, etc.? Geithner has undoubtedly engineered a very impressive program that has kept the economy from the brink. Anyone who doesn’t see that is clearly uninformed. Replacing the house republicans is a much much better move. They keep getting in the way of real progress.

Posted by anonymous | Report as abusive

Nothing worse than a populist (read people’s) political climate!

Posted by P’funk | Report as abusive

The above comment says it all, perfectly. No need to elaborate.

Posted by mnjr | Report as abusive

Poor Timmy–we hardly knew ye. (And you didn’t even get your signature on a banknote!).

Posted by Samdog | Report as abusive

Economy of any country depends on public and not on administrators. Mr. Geithner and Mr.Obama’s greatest faultline to fill the coffers of banks ultimately proved wrong.It is the small businesses and the non organised sectors that fuels the economy and employment of any country but the administrations left them apart.Its no way to lament for Mr. Timothy.

Posted by Peter Vaz | Report as abusive

please give Obama and Geithner time, They inherited a heavy load from Bush.

Posted by Bakh Malak | Report as abusive

Geithner will most certainly stay as long as the current administration is in the White House. Just because fiscal conservatives like you and I strongly disagree with their policies, bordering on criminal, doesn’t mean that they will be leaving anytime soon.

Posted by Jake Berzon | Report as abusive