Today I had the opportunity to talk to Congressman Kevin McCarthy when he addressed the Heritage Foundation’s conservative blogger briefing. I asked McCarthy how House Democrats view Tim Geithner – based on his conversations with his colleagues across the aisle.
McCarthy said that Geithner was in ‘dire straits’ – that he had blown his first impression, came across as the ‘man with the plan’ who had none, and now was getting mocked by Saturday Night Live. The AIG mess would only worsen his situation. As McCarthy pointed out, Geithner needs a strong support team to have a chance to turn things around – but seems unlikely to get one anytime soon. According to McCarthy, that seems to be the view of House Democrats as well.
Is Geithner in ‘dire straits?’ Well, when a manager gets a vote of confidence from the owner, it’s only a matter of time before he’s out:
If there was any doubt the White House is feeling the heat over Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s role in the AIG bonuses, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs gave a big clue Tuesday.
“The president has complete confidence” in Geithner, Gibbs told reporters.
In Washington terms, “complete” and “confidence” are the two words no public official ever wants to hear, often a harbinger of trouble. And with public and congressional fury growing over the $165 million in bonuses, Geithner’s role in the situation is getting close scrutiny.
Gibbs said, however, the White House is standing by Geithner, even as questions are being raised whether he did enough to head off the controversial bonuses.
“The secretary of the Treasury did as much in his legal power at the time to lessen the impact of what we all understand is outrageous,” Gibbs said at the White House news briefing.
The key thing is that Geithner probably should be out. I say ‘probably’ because it’s clear that the administration has so many problems with the vetting process, it could take months to find another qualified tax cheat. But on the merits, why does Geithner deserve to stay?
He helped bring about the collapse of Bear Stearns. Even the left is now questioning the Obama/Geithner narrative about the AIG bonuses that Geithner ‘couldn’t stop.’ He long ago lost the confidence of Wall Street, and he’s driven the stock market down at a historic rate. He’s lost the confidence of both the American people and Capitol Hill. It’s hard to see how the overall picture for the banking sector can improve while Treasury is being run by the walking wounded.
The Left spent eight years attacking George Bush for his alleged unwillingness to admit a mistake. Is Barack Obama going to make them eat their words?