Should Treasury Secretary Geithner be fired?
President Obama is just back from an eight-day trip to Asia. Perhaps he hoped to sleep in a bit today.
But amid growing discontent over the administration's handling of the economy -- and new revelations about misspent or at least misreported stimulus funds -- anger on Capitol Hill is sending a dramatic wake-up to the White House.
The target of much of the anger is Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, a former New York Federal Reserve banker who bailed out AIG and let Lehmann Bros. fall and who has watched the dollar sink to all-time lows.
At a session of the Joint Economic Committee on Thursday, Republicans let him have it.
"Conservatives agree that as point person, you failed. Liberals are growing in that consensus as well," said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas). "For the sake of our jobs, will you step down from your post?"
Geithner shot back at Republicans with this line: "You gave this president an economy falling off the cliff."
But Democrats are growing critical too, with progressives arguing that the administration is tilting toward Wall Street and away from Main Street. Here's Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) calling for Geithner's resignation.
Even members of the Congressional Black Caucus apparently think the first black president in history has been slow on the uptake. They are threatening to hold up a financial regulatory reform package unless the White House takes action on jobs. "The recession has created a unique systemic risk that threatens all parts of the African American community, including the poor and the middle class," explained Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles).
Not everyone agrees. Columnist David Brooks hailed Geithner's policies the other day, saying that he was mostly right and his critics were mostly wrong. The financial sector is in much better shape than it was then. TARP money is being repaid, and the debate now is what to do with the billions that were never needed. It now seems clear that nationalization would have been an unnecessary mistake — potentially expensive and dangerously disruptive."
So far the administration is defending Geithner, with a spokeswoman saying that he has helped "steer the American economy back from the brink and is now leading the effort on financial reform."
What do you think?
-- Johanna Neuman
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