March 7, 2009

"Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is trying to stabilize the nation’s banking industry..."

"... implement a housing rescue plan and prop up a plunging stock market – all with about 18 vacant senior positions, virtually the entire upper echelon of his department. The staff is so faceless that lobbyists have begun trading jokes about a 'ghost' bureaucracy, given the many empty picture frames hanging on the department’s walls."

Just give him a big plastic button labeled "fix everything."


Pogo said...
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Pogo said...

"Just give him a big plastic button labeled "fix everything."

Ha. Classic.

In Russian it will translate into "Liquidate".

Maguro said...

In other news, Yasser Arafat is in stable condition after dying in a Paris hospital.

God help us all.

AllenS said...

Well, that was a wonderful story. A Treasury of one.

fcai said...

Bang up job those socialists are doing. They are as smart as they are competent.

Icepick said...

Enough of the "Poor Timmy" crap. Geithner is supposed to be the best man for the job, and part of the job is choosing a staff. He (and the Obama team more generally) had plenty of time to pick key staffers, vet them, and have them approved by a friendly Senate. He has failed choosing his staff, which is just something else to add to the list of failures.

(If Giethner is the best man, then we need to find a woman for the job. Or perhaps a capybara.)

Michael Hasenstab said...

From the article:

"Geithner’s lack of staff has begun to worry fellow Democrats."

Democrat A: Hey, didja hear the one about Timmy Geithner?

Democrat B: No. What's that?

Democrat A: (chuckles) Rumor is, he's got, like, a really, really small staff. (snorts)

Democrat B: (guffaws) A small staff? Wouldn't he be better in healthcare? I mean, at least he could get an earmark. (laughs)

Democrat A: (laughs harder) No, no, his ears are okay, it's his staff! (howls)

TitusIsReadyForTheDayLetsBegin said...

A complete and total outrage.

Bring back Hank Paulson.

I am furious.

PatCA said...

I think this "no staff" meme is a big excuse. He's got plenty of unofficial advisers and assistants who already work there. My favorite joke from Wall Street these days is "Too bad Tim Geithner isn't still alive."

Geithner is not up to the job. So far, The One's reach has exceeded his grasp, by a thousand miles.

Curtiss said...

Lassieeeeeeee, Lassie.

Pogo said...

Obama fooled Warren Buffet, Althouse, Noonan, Brooks, Buckley, and many others.

But there were many who were not fooled. Many on this blog, too. They were deemed racist and reactionary, among other things.

Now we have undeniable evidence that we have an inexperienced socialist in the White House, who will bankrupt the nation into his vision of utopia, and appease our enemies.

Saying negatives about McCain won't wash now. You who voted for Obama elected a wolf in sheep's clothing. Every goddamned thing we predicted would happen has come true so far, but even worse.

Michael Hasenstab said...
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Paul Zrimsek said...

I suspect they already gave him that button, but misspelled it as "fux everything".

feleron said...

Gee...a guy who can't figure out his taxes can't run an entire gov't department?

who'd have thunk it?

AlphaLiberal said...

Sure would be nice if we could all agree it would be good to get the Treasury Dept operational and get those positions filled.

I do wish Geithner would get over his ideological opposition to bank "nationalization" and notice we've been doing it for a long time, and continue to do it. Just not with the megabanks.

(Maybe he thinks he can't nationalize big banks without staff).

Hells bells, we nationalized a bank in Georgia yesterday.

"Nationalization" is a very scary word that arrests thinking processes.

David said...

Did you see Malia and Sasha go down their new slide? Malia shouted "Dow!" and Sasha shouted "Jones!" Their dad asked if they noticed any disconcerting gyrations, and they said, "No, Daddy! It goes straight down, just the way you set it up!"

Bumsurf said...

I have a great idea! Why doesn't Geithner use the TurboTax feature that assists in planning for next year's taxes. He could crank in 'what ifs' and eventually craft a plan that most of us fools would identify as pure genius.

AlphaLiberal said...

Blaming Obama for the economy is a transparent -- and dumb -- partisan ploy.

And, coming from the same crowd that was saying a few short years ago "This economy is Bill Clinton/Jimmy Carter's fault, not George Bush's - he inherited it!"

Really, guys, you're becoming a self-parody of hypocrisy.

reader_iam said...
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Jim said...

I find myself so cowed and shamed by AlphaLiberal that I am changing my posting moniker to BetaConservative. Serves me right.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Obama, is there anything he can do?

Joe said...

Uh, Michael, Greenspan wasn't treasury secretary. He was chairman of the Federal Reserve and one of the key players in getting us into this mess (by keeping interest rates too low for too long and failing to recognize EVERY financial bubble until it had popped.)

The unfortunate fact is that Greenspan talked a hell of a lot more than Geithner and it was mostly idiotic gibberish.

EDH said...

Wow, Geithner doing all that reminds me of a Master Plate Spinner.

Zach said...

I've been worried about this for a while, and the article actually reassures me by pointing out that many people who are presumptive nominees are already working unofficially.

That said, the difference between unofficially working and officially working is that an officially nominated and confirmed official can represent the administration to the outside world.

It goes back to Obama's argument that his campaign was bigger than Wasilla, Alaska, ergo he had better experience than Sarah Palin. Everyone in a campaign is working for the benefit of Obama himself -- it wouldn't matter if they had an official title or not.

Right now, I have two major concerns about Obama. The first is personnel -- does he hire good people? Does he undercut his people by needlessly duplicating roles (as in the proliferation of czars with roles that shadow those of Cabinet secretaries)? Can he keep his people working hard and productively on the issues of the day, or will they just come back with liberal wishlists because that's what they want to work on?

The second concern is that Obama seems to be enacting an ambitious and expensive agenda before he has his team together, in a time of falling revenues, when large and unforeseen programs have been needed every few months. I don't want him to spend our safety margin!

The Drill SGT said...

Interesting. Both in the story and the comments. Nobody mentions Obama's unconfirmed WH Economic Czar, Larry Summers?

Is it because pointing out that Geithner has help, dilutes the meme or because he is a feminist non-person?

All those Non-confirmed White House residing, executive privileged super cabinet positions are a huge shift of power away from the Senate confirmation process and the Congressal oversight process in general

james said...

Wretchard (Fernandez) found an interesting article about Geithner's history: Paul Keating talks about Geithner and the IMF.

Balfegor said...

Interesting. Both in the story and the comments. Nobody mentions Obama's unconfirmed WH Economic Czar, Larry Summers?

Is it because pointing out that Geithner has help, dilutes the meme or because he is a feminist non-person?

I think it's because the problem that Geithner faces is not just that he doesn't have "help" -- in addition to Summers, he's also got Volcker to help him in putting together a plan -- it's that Secretary of the Treasury is also a position with managerial responsibilities. He oversees a substantial bureaucracy, and he can't do it all on his own. That's why there's layers of deputies, assistant secretaries, directors and whatnot below him -- to free up his time so he can work on the larger thrust of the administration's policy. Summers and other members of the economic advisory team can't step in and perform those functions because that's not how they slot into the bureaucracy.

That said, it doesn't seem to be the case that Geithner is the problem in putting people in place. Is it his responsibility? If you look at other areas, such as foreign policy, it's wholly unclear who is in charge of hiring -- Clinton and either the President or the Vice President both called Gen. Zinni up to congratulate him on his appointment as ambassador to Iraq, and Zinni learned only later that somehow Holbrooke (?) had persuaded the President to give the position to someone else. And I rather doubt Clinton was behind the nomination of Dr. Rice to the post of UN Ambassador. Clearly, the nomination of subordinates is not completely under the control of the cabinet secretaries. Nor is it clear who is pulling the strings. It's not Rahm Emanuel, for example, though he would be the most natural suspect -- I find it hard to believe that Emanuel would have okayed Chas Freeman oversee preparation of intelligence reports.

This staffing is something the transition team should have been working on four months ago, even before they decided who the President's treasury secretary was going to be. Has any administration ever been less prepared to govern?

yashu said...

In the comment thread to his previous post (before the one mentioned by james), Wretchard notes the worldwide anxiety Obama's starting to set off (cf. article in The Australian, titled "World worries as Obama team struggle," leading: "Full-blown panic is setting in on US financial markets, prompting anxiety in Canberra and other leading world economies that the Obama Administration is not doing enough to try to stop the haermorrhaging").

Wretchard expresses my own queasiness when he says: "This is a very dangerous moment, one which nobody, not even those who dislike President Obama, should relish. This is the equivalent of being in a 747 at 41,000 feet and realizing there’s an imposter or someone who doesn’t know how to fly the airplane at the controls. Once the news starts to spread in the cabin, it will cause a destructive panic, which won’t solve the basic problem of flying the plane. Whatever gratification anyone gets from having had doubts from the outset are secondary to the need to keep the airplane in a stable flight envelope." That's exactly how this feels.

Peter V. Bella said...

The polls are in on the popularity of the economic plan- markets down again yesterday.

I guess Obama is not going to waste a good crisis.

The Drill SGT said...

The comment that I think most clearly demonstrates tht Obama doesn't have an economic clue was not the "Profit earning ratio" one, but rather the one where he stated "he didn't watch the ups and downs of the market, and that the market was just like political tracking polls".

Of course tracking polls sample a few thousand people about how they felt about activity that occurred in he past, while the stock market measures the aggregate view of millions of people (and a whole lot of experts) on the likihood of future profits. Lots of laws of stat and prob make thatsample a lot more reflective of both confidence and future profit streams. The behavior of the market (all downs and no ups) indicate a clear vote that Obama will be Bad for growth, profits and private sector employment.

BJM said...

Krauthammer wisecracked recently that he had a vision of Geithner wandering the dark empty halls of Treasury talking to the portraits of past Treasurers, ala Nixon.

Bruce Hayden said...

Blaming Obama for the economy is a transparent -- and dumb -- partisan ploy.

Never mind that at least the stock market read his "stimulus" plan as being a pretext for paying off constituent groups to the tune of trillions of dollars that we don't have. And that said stock market doesn't believe that Keynesian stimulation works any better than most economists did, until it was resurrected by Obama's economic staff to justify all that pork barrel spending in order to not waste the current crisis.

Bruce Hayden said...

As for Larry Summers, does anyone believe that he could be confirmed as dog catcher, after insulting all of womenhood while he was president of Harvard by suggesting that there may be one thing that men may be slightly better than women at?

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Sorry to be so blunt, 'cause it's way late in the thread.

When Geitner was with the IMF, he was in charge of the Asian desk when the shit hit the fan in '97.

He mistook a capital accounts problem for a current accounts problem (cash flow, basically, as opposed to insolvency issues) and acted accordingly.

His interventions made such a mess of the productive Asian economy that not a single one of those nations has wanted a single thing to do with the IMF since that time.

He is making precisely the same mistake here and now.

Issob Morocco said...

Is Geithner's issue the growing voter remorse creeping into Democratic Party circles? Potential Nominee remorse, if you will?

Seems odd that almost two months in, the greatest Administration to have never held office as of last November, is struggling to find people to fill Treasury. Do the ones turning it down know something that the media has yet to latch onto?

Perhaps Alpha Liberal can leave his village idiot post to serve?

DADvocate said...

I think the button will work as long as they get the translation right. Shouldn't it be in Chinese?

Kev said...

Sure would be nice if we could all agree it would be good to get the Treasury Dept operational and get those positions filled.

Sure would be nice if those positions--especially the top one--were filled with people who 1) knew what they were doing and 2) weren't avowed tax cheats.

Why isn't Geithner in prison by now? He confessed to a felony, so a conviction would seem to be a slam-dunk. And why hasn't someone issued an order to arrest him yet?

(As we say in Texas, I have a dog in this hunt: More than half of my income is derived from self-employment, and I've managed to pay my self-employment tax every year, even without the help of TurboTax. If I did what Geithner did, I'd be in prison; there's no reason that he shouldn't be. We simply cannot have two different sets of rules for public "servants" and average Joes.)

downtownlad said...

I'm just hoping that Rush Limbaugh is right. We ALL want America to FAIL.

I want every one of you LOSERS to lose your goddamned job, so that Rush is proved right.

downtownlad said...

We are now officially in the worst recession since the Great Depression.

And the wingnuts blame this entire economy on Obama. They honestly believe that everything would be perfect right now if the Stimulus bill had failed and we had implemented a spending cut instead.


Balfegor said...

I'm just hoping that Rush Limbaugh is right. We ALL want America to FAIL.

That's a rather uncharitable interpretation of what the man said. He said he wants Obama to fail. And the charitable interpretation would be that he wants him to fail at his grandiose plans to redefine the relationship between citizen and state.

Re: blame for the economy, I've only heard one commenter her try to tie the whole recession to Obama. Most of us just think he's making a bad situation worse, with his dithering, his asinine "plans," and his inability to exercise any leadership over Congress. I may not trust his judgment, but at the least I think it's better than Pelosi's. But that doesn't help us when Pelosi turns out, horror of horrors, to be a stronger, more disciplined leader than the President.

Paul Snively said...

Pogo: Now we have undeniable evidence that we have an inexperienced socialist...

On the contrary; the evidence is that Obama is quite an experienced socialist.