James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Why Geithner and Summers may stick around for a while

April 8, 2010

I am writing a column on this, given the rumors about Larry Summers soon departing.  But a few quick thoughts:

1) The only folks who really seem hot for these guys to leave are liberal activist groups and union folks. Basically the Huffington Post crowd who want to break up the banks and spend another trillion dollars on stimulus.

2) I think the WH believes the economy will begin to be a slight breeze at its back in the months ahead, a not unreasonable economic conclusion. Why muddy the narrative with departures?

3) If Summers is sick of the job, he’s sick of the job. Whatever. But I don’t think there is a great desire to push him out by the WH political team or the POTUS.

4)  As for Geithner, his slow start, including tax troubles, made him a permanent subject for resignation rumors. But the success of the stress tests and perhaps now some movement on the China currency issue  have thickened his heat shield considerably.

5) What if the Dems lose both houses of Congress in the fall? The assumption is that there will be a total house cleaning on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue as well. I am not so sure about that.  Replacements for the econ team would be tough to find given the party’s anti-Wall Street fervor, especially at Treasury. Plus, if Obama thinks his policies are right and progress is being made, then he is is going to stick. Recall that after the 1982 disaster for Republicans, President Reagan didn’t replace Don Regan at Treasury. Now after the Dem 1994 disaster, Lloyd Bentsen did leave, but he was never going to be a long-termer anyway.

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