In Defense of Tim Geithner

by: Michael Shulman

Maybe Timmy Geithner – I am calling him Timmy to soften his image and because he does look like he is still in high school – is not the best Treasury Secretary. But he was part of a triumvirate of dedicated and skilled public servants – Bernanke, Paulson and Geithner – who saved the world financial system due to the inability of the Bushs' early Treasury Secretaries and Alan Greenspan to come together and properly regulate derivatives and parts of the mortgage market.

Don’t blame Timmy for cleaning up someone else’s mess.

Maybe Tim Geithner is not helping as much as he can to tame the deficit, but the stimulus package was also necessary for financial markets, may have had some impact, and is a problem only because it is on top of structural deficits built around fighting two wars without putting them in the budget or putting in place tax cuts without offsetting spending cuts.

So don’t blame Timmy for making the deficit what it is, it is not his fault.

Maybe Tim Geithner is not seen as a leader because he's not the most articulate Treasury Secretary we have had, but he is part of a new tradition of inarticulate Secretaries. Remember Hank Paulson or John Snow speaking to the press or Congress? Or how their boss, whatever you think of his other skills, turned English into a foreign language more often than not?

Maybe Tim is not the right guy to lead us to the promised land. But Representatives who cannot intelligently discuss the difference between the TARP and the TALF – sadly, I can – and do not understand what the term “structural deficit means” – think the Fed is a federal agency. It is not. They harp about spending they voted for, over and over again, and should just call in sick before they criticize Timmy this week when he testifies.

The bottom line: the Secretary of Treasury serves at the pleasure of the President of the United States, not Congress, and their conceit is they know how to do a job they do not even understand, as they long as they can say so while C SPAN’s cameras are rolling.

Yes, the Tea Party people scream and yell about taxes while they drink clean water and send their children to public universities, and the Congressional Black Caucus screams we need to spend more to help black people in the recession as if they were a separate class of suffering worker and yes, the country is increasingly polarized around ideology. Tim has no ideology in his work. He, like any serious public servant, just wants to get a job done; leave him alone and let him get back to work.

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