Saturday, August 06, 2011


A number of Republicans are calling for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's head in the midst of this downgrade disaster, and if it weren't for the fact a new Treasury Secretary worth a damn would be immediately and permanently blocked by the Senate GOP, I'd be agreeing with them.

GOP Sen. Jim DeMint is of course one of those in Congress who would basically assure any confirmation fight would last well into 2012.

"The president should demand that Secretary Geithner resign and immediately replace him with someone who will help Washington focus on balancing our budget and allowing the private sector to create jobs," DeMint said in a report Saturday in The Hill.

"For months he opposed all efforts to reduce the debt in return for a debt ceiling increase. His opposition to serious spending and debt reforms has been reckless and now the American people will pay the price," said DeMint, a Tea Party favorite.

Rep. Michele Bachmann also wants her pound of Timmy's flesh.
“We were warned by all the credit agencies that a failure to deal with the debt would lead to this downgrade in our credit rating,” she said. “But instead, the president submitted a budget that had a $1.5 trillion deficit, the he request a $2.4 trillion blank check on top of that. President Obama is destroying the foundations of our economy, one beam at a time. I call on the president to seek the immediate resignation of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and submit a plan that balances the budget in year. Turn the economy around and put our people back to work.”

Other Tea Party candidates are picking up the call as well.  It's clear what the plan is:  If Geithner goes, then it's an admission that the Republicans are correct on the "theory" that the S&P downgrade is all President Obama's fault.  At the same time, there are a number of progressives like myself who freely admit that appointing Tim Geithner as SecTreas was arguably the President's biggest mistake in his first term.

Now I'm a strong supporter of the President.  I am not however a anywhere close to a fan of Geithner.  Not only should have the President gotten rid of him sooner, he never should have appointed anyone that close to Hank Paulson to the job in the first place.  Geither has made a chain reaction of economic disaster events possible, from refusal to go after the banks in 2009, to weakening the Dodd-Frank legislation, to his own silly tax return nonsense.
And now we're in a situation where getting rid of him becomes a proxy fight for rejecting the President himself, leaving a very rotten taste in my mouth.  Getting rid of him now would only ensure a huge confirmation fight and no leadership at Treasury at a time where we're going to need it.  As much as I despise Geithner, sacking him now would only be handing the GOP another loaded weapon to go after the President with.

It's infuriating.  If there's one guy who has been wrong in the Obama administration since day one, it's Geithner...and yet getting rid of him now is a tacit admission of the President's mistake.  It's smart of the White House to go after S&P's credibility on this, but they're going to have to fight back against the Republicans as well.  The Geithner problem I've been warning about for 30 months has now officially bitten the President and the country right on the ass.

It's arguably worth considering if trashing Geithner is better in the long run, even if it does play into the GOP's hands in the short run.  That's not my call, however.