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Geithner: Prolonging the Pain

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Last week, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner warned us that tough economic times still lie ahead. For many Americans, he said, “It's going to feel very hard, harder than anything they've experienced in their lifetime now, for a long time to come."


When the treasury secretary of the United States makes a statement like that, it’s time for him to go. To be so glib about the very thing that it is his job to fix tells me Geithner is unequivocally unfit to lead.

Unfortunately, when it comes to bungling his job, Geithner’s an old pro. As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, his role was to oversee and regulate the financial institutions in his area. During his tenure, the entire U.S. banking industry nearly imploded. Institutions like Merrill Lynch and Citigroup had no clue what kind of risk they had on their books. As it turned out, neither did he.

When the meltdown was in full swing, Geithner was central in the decision not to rescue Lehman Brothers and to break up Bear Stearns—two horrible botch-jobs that it’s widely agreed made the financial crisis much worse.

In fact, now that I think about it, much of the economic malaise this country finds itself in can be attributed the actions—or inaction—of my fellow Chicagoan’s top financial advisor.

For instance, there was the time he led the charge against extending the Bush tax cuts, saying that they would do nothing to stimulate the economy.


And the time he stood with the president on one of the most flawed pieces of legislation to come out in three decades, the Dodd-Frank Act, which puts the entire banking system in the same bureaucratic-nightmare category as the DMV.

Or how about his team’s $800 billion stimulus package, which didn’t so much produce shovel-ready jobs as it created a massive pile of debt.

Then there’s my favorite—how he now believes that small businessmen who make $250,000/year are filthy rich, in the same category as billionaire hedge-fund managers who fly in private jets.

This guy doesn’t have a clue. His track record speaks for itself. I won’t even get into his personal tax issues.

Tim Geithner didn’t understand what was going on when he was at the New York Fed, and he doesn’t understand what’s going on now. More than any of the 74 men who have held his post before him, this treasury secretary has shown himself to be an incompetent prosperity killer of the highest order.

As he neglects our nation’s economic well-being and takes a Chicken Little stand in the debt-ceiling debate (note to liberals: the sky will not fall if the GOP gets its way), I find myself longing for the days of Bob Rubin, another treasury secretary appointed by a democrat. At least he understood capital market structure and the role of the U.S. as a global leader—you know, things that you’d think a president would consider before appointing the nation’s chief financial officer. 


But hey, when it comes to my fellow Chicagoan, not much surprises me anymore.

And speaking of the president, during that same “Meet the Press,” interview, Geithner claimed that Obama rescued us from a second Great Depression and that he remains hard at work strengthening the economy. The reality is, along with his top financial advisor, Obama has done nothing but prolong the pain.

And every day Geithner remains on the job, he’s doing the exact same thing.
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