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White House Cheat Sheet: Geithner's Big Weekend

This weekend is a critical one for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Photo by Bill O'Leary of the Washington Post

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, under fire for his handling of the bonuses paid to AIG executives, faces a critical weekend as he fights to remain as the Obama administration's lead economic spokesman.

Although White House senior aides insist that Geithner is perfectly secure in his post, the fact that President Obama and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs both saw fit to express their "complete confidence" in him over the last 96 hour speaks to the level of concern in the administration about the situation.

During an appearance on the "Tonight Show" Thursday, Obama reiterated that support -- noting that Geithner inherited an extremely complex and difficult situation. "He is a smart guy and he's a calm and steady guy," Obama said. "I don't think people fully appreciate the plate that was handed him."

Republicans continue to grow more bold in their criticism of Geithner. Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson said that he would resign if he were in Geithner's shoes and Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning alleged that the treasury secretary "has an incestuous relationship with Wall Street" in an interview on the Fox Business Network.

Even some Democrats -- privately, of course -- are beginning to grumble that Geithner's time may be up. "His position is not sustainable," said one senior Democratic strategist. "It's clear he knew and approved of bonuses that the White House now thoroughly condemns."

The weekend will be telling as to how the administration -- and the Republican opposition -- plan to move forward on Geithner. Who does the White House put out on shows like "Meet the Press," "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," "Face the Nation" and "State of the Union" to make the case for the administration's economic plan and, by proxy, Geithner? And, do more prominent Republicans jump on the "resign" bandwagon or hold their fire?

Seeking to get a jump on the weekend, Geithner sat for an interview with CNN's Ali Velshi late Thursday and took credit (or blame) for the insertion of an amendment in the Senate stimulus bill that allowed bonuses like those granted to AIG to happen and dismissed the calls to step aside as part and parcel of the job. "People are going to disagree with some of the choices we make, but we have to act," Geithner told Velshi.

One of Geithner's biggest problems in the early months of the Obama Administration has been, according to conversations with several Democratic strategists, his lack of comfort in the public arena -- typified by his widely panned speech unveiling the bank bailout.

"When you run a Fed bank you live deep in a cave," said one senior Democratic operative. "He just needs to get used to the sunlight."

Given the Obama Administration's demonstrated skepticism about the shark tank that is politics in the nation's capital, it's hard to see them making what they would regard as a knee-jerk decision on Geithner. Barring any other future bombshells, the treasury secretary is likely to stay in his post for the foreseeable future.

"Tim Geithner came into this job with one strike against him -- the controversies surrounding his confirmation," said Paul Begala. "This mess is a second strike." Begala added, however, that "Obama is the umpire --- and he isn't showing any signs that he's going to call Geithner out."

Regardless, this weekend will play a role -- perhaps a major one -- in shaping public perception about Geithner. Can the administration prove the chattering class wrong again?

Sked Stuff: First lady Michelle Obama unveils the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn at noon today. It's the first vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt planted one, according to the New York Times. The idea is that the Obamas will actually serve and eat food grown in the garden.

Friday Fast Reads: The weekend's coming. Read these stories. Sound smart.

1. President Obama returns to campaign mode to sell a skeptical Congress on his budget.
2. The "why" behind the reemergence of former vice president Dick Cheney.
3. Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren seeks to clarify her husband's ties to the political operation of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- a relationship first reported in the Fix.
4. Does Twitter have a business model? And a response.
5. Jenga Pistol.

Gentry Comes to Washington (Again): Gentry Collins, who has shuttled back and forth between Iowa and D.C., for the last few years is making the nation's capital his permanent home (for now) as the new political director at the Republican National Committee. (The news was first reported by Rothenberg Political Report's Nathan Gonzales.) Collins is a familiar name to those who followed the presidential campaign as he served as Iowa state director for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and then as the Midwest regional campaign manager for Arizona Sen. John McCain's (R) general election bid. In the 2006 cycle, Collins served as political director of the Republican Governors Association -- experience that should come in handy in overseeing the 38 gubernatorial races in 2009 and 2010. Phil Musser, who served as executive director of the RGA during Collins's time there, described the hire as a "big win for [RNC Chairman] Michael Steele." Musser added that Collins is "unanimously liked personally and has [earned] wide respect among the operative class."

NY-20 Goes National: The special election to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) has quickly developed into a test case for the two parties' national messages. State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R) launched an ad Wednesday seeking to link businessman Scott Murphy's (D) support for the economic stimulus package to the controversy over the payout of bonuses to AIG executives. Murphy is hitting back with his own ad hammering Tedisco for his opposition to the stimulus package and repeatedly showing a clip of the Republican shouting "no" to job growth elements of the plan. Make no mistake: this race, which will be decided on March 31, is a litmus test for the 2010 fight over the benefits (or lack thereof) of President Obama's approach to fixing the economy.

"Outrage" is the Word: New polling out of the Gallup organization shows that nearly six in ten Americans feel "outraged" at the bonuses paid out by AIG while 26 percent described themselves as "bothered" by the news and 11 percent pronounced themselves "not particularly bothered" by the bonuses. (Who are those people?) Wondering why Congress moved so quickly to approve a 90 percent tax on the bonuses? The same Gallup poll reveals that 76 percent said the government should try to either block or recover the bonuses -- numbers that are fairly consistent across self-identified Democrats (83 percent), Independents (77 percent) and Republicans (67 percent).

Michigan Gov. Field Grows: Wealthy businessman Rick Snyder (R), a former senior executive at Gateway, formed an exploratory committee Thursday to run for governor in Michigan -- joining an already crowded field that includes two statewide elected officials. Snyder, who is being advised by John Weaver, a former senior adviser to Arizona Sen. John McCain, will position himself as an outsider alternative in the field, casting himself as a businessman ready to bring a fresh perspective and approach to fixing Michigan's disastrous economy. Michigan is at the epicenter of the economic decline nationwide and, as a result, the race to replace term-limited Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) will be a marquee race of the 2010 cycle. If a Republican wins, he or she will almost immediately become a national figure.

Say What?: "I appreciate that President Obama has completed his 'March Madness' Tournament Bracket. Yet the organizational chart of his administration still has far too many open slots." -- National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) slams Obama over the president's high-profile hoops picks.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 20, 2009; 5:50 AM ET
Categories:  Cheat Sheet Share This:  E-Mail | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Digg | Stumble Previous: Wag the Blog Redux: Should Geithner Stay or Go?
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So what are we to do? A good idea is for us to form our own lobbying efforts. The concept is not new the Grange did a similar thing and changed the way our federal Government worked ---http://www.nationalgrange.org/

In some foreign countries advocates for the people are doing likewise, in America today many advocates to help those with disabilities are do the same.

Now FOLKS we are 5 million strong, simply saying that we must mount a front to confront the ones who use money thrown at lobbyist to get what they want that most times is against the populous NEEDS, WANTS OR WISHES.

We the People in Unity

We believe that our United States of America has grown in population such that our voices in representation in our federal government has diminished to a degree that we must in solidarity form our own We the People Advocacy to lobby in Washington DC. To make our voices heard once again.

When we were a young nation of less that five million the size of our Congress and Senate had an ear to the grass roots needs of our people. Our population now is over three hundred million and the size of our Congress and Senate has not keep up with our growth. Therefore We the People in Unity declare that our city, counties states and Federal Governments have grown too centralized, too intrusive, too exclusive and too expensive.

We believe in Constitutional oversight by the people, smaller governments, Rights to Life for everyone in civil liberties, federalism, and taxes that span the great gulf of all our contributing members and resources and be assessed with equity for all.

We the People in Unity want to make a stern call to all elected and charged to govern us to end laws and programs that don't work, eradicate the laws, programs and agencies that cause harm, and cause a call from our Department of Justice to summons those that have clearly violated the basic tenets of our Laws in our Constitution to be held to account.

We the People in Unity want the power to restore the full force of ALL the amendments, in our Constitution which will bring back the power to us to govern ourselves in all needed sane sanguine and society social functions and end NOW our needless and warrant less wars ---- and in the future ----deny the use of all preemptive aggressive wars that have robbed from us our people and our communed treasury.

TO JOIN IN TODAY to have your VOICE heard once again We the People Advocacy WTPA
Contact dbaker007@stx.rr.com

Posted by: dbaker00711281944 | March 26, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the "Time" link [Cheney]. I read it, but was disappointed. It seems like acute insight into the obvious that the more he is attacked [by Leahy; indirectly by the furor over the Yoo memos] the more strident he becomes in defense of his actions.

I likewise don’t understand how, why and who promotes Cheney having free exposures to us in our supposed unbiased fair and balanced news media. Why would anyone with common sense; reason and an inclusive thought process want to publish what a known war criminal dissent felon and a maker of unjust wars have a forum to spew out more of his lies? He should be behind bars, being held without bail. Instead the deep and wide entrenched neo-cons that Obama must in time rid from us ---- about 5 to 7 thousand in the political and military arena in Washington DC are in an aggressive destroy OBAMA mode and Cheney has been called on to try to deceive once more. MY TAKE no way.

Now when will all this tomfoolery end? When we begin to saving of our Nation --- a people sound sane and grounded in being kind, caring, loving our fellow man here in the USA and around the world. We must be the ones to lead ALL of us into a better form of Democracy. So in doing we cannot live in a dream-enhanced state such as some want to do---- with heads in the clouds waiting for some ONE to come along and fix the mess that we are in. We must take ACTION in the use of our words first then our deeds will follow --- while wanting and working to become a contributing part of our civil society where all would have the RIGHTS to LIFE regardless of their education, status in life, creeds, customs or color of their skin.

Now coming soon very soon is a GOOD CHANGE with a providential thundering in the clouds that will produce a cool rain that will shower down on all. On the many ----- that has a desire to work toward getting ----- then giving all Americans a continuous vote and voice in our Democracy. Thus arriving is WE THE PEOPLES Advocacy or WTPA we will have six regions around the USA to be the hub with a director and staffers to work on local levels with those many folks residing there assessing their needs, wants and wishes needed --- then up streaming those matters to Washington DC to our OVERSIGHT COUNSEL and legal staff to work with CONGRESS the SENATE and ADMINISTRAITON to implement.

Until recently that concept was called WE THE PEOPLES LOBBY but after some thought we changed to ADVOCACY.

Dwight Baker
To JOIN IN contact dbaker007@stx.rr.com

Posted by: dbaker00711281944 | March 22, 2009 6:20 AM | Report abuse

I always thought the Tiny Tim G. handled his handicap very well...makes everyone a bit sympathetic to the little Dickensian character.

Posted by: newbeeboy | March 21, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Im an Obama supporter but would like to see Geithner out-of-there. Why? His proximity to Wall Street, His tax evasion (his excuses are hard/impossible to buy), his lack of forthrightness (extreme reluctance to share information), his coverup of the AIG bonuses, and well, your turn . . .

Posted by: rawreid | March 20, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

While I don't like the fact that bonuses were given, I understand why Geithner did what he did.

Hopefully we can turn this economy around and actually focus on solving the deeper, systemic issues for why we're in this situation. Obviously bad banking's a good place to start, but there are other issues, like global poverty, that have huge economic and geopolitical ramifications.

The Borgen Project (www.borgenproject.org) has some interesting insight into addressing the issues of global poverty, something we can remedy easily and sustainably.

Some interesting figures to ponder:
$30 billion USD: The annual shortfall to end global poverty.
$550 billion USD: The annual US defense budget.

Posted by: concernedcitizen1111 | March 20, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I work in financial service and know a bit about credit default swaps. Geither COMPLETELY screwed up when he negotiated the rescue of AIG last October.

He should have spun the toxic financial products division away from the main company so that the government could then pick and choose which credit swaps to bail out. Basically we could have promised to honor the ones used by major banks to maintain their statutory capital requirements while bailing on the purely speculative credit swaps taken out by the likes of Goldman and several hedge funds.

Because Geithner screwed up so badly we are now at the wrong end of possibly TRILLIONS of dollars in credit swap contracts owed to the very speculators who are responsible for cratering our economy. Putting us in that postion was amazingly, mind blowingly dumb.

That, plus his record at the New York Fed and his history as a champion of deregulation in the late 90s mean that Geithner should never have been within a country mile of the treasury department at this time. Open your eyes.

Posted by: Paul_Hackett | March 20, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

For the first time in a year messiah gets off his TelePrompTer and his true vindictive, thug self emerges. Stick to the script barry, transparency will be your downfall.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 20, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

For the first time in a year messiah gets off his TelePrompTer and his true vindictive, thug self emerges. Stick to the script barry, transparency will be your downfall.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 20, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

For the first time in a year messiah gets off his TelePrompTer and his true vindictive, thug self emerges. Stick to the script barry, transparency will be your downfall.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 20, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

maybe they could all go on a talk show tour, tell jokes and make fun of their detractors. Are we laughing with them or at them. The clowns in the Obama circus seem entirely witless. Seems like while Obama was concentrating on his teleprompter, in order to know what to think and say, someone tied his shoelaces together.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 20, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Obama's mocking of the handicapped on The Tonight Show show just how warped he is-

But who is surprised by this gauche and downright cruel comment? No different than his classless cheap-shot on 90-yr-old Nancy Reagan in his first presser.

Trouble is that the REAL Barack tends to leak-out when he's not hard-wired to a TelePrompTer-

Narcissists are often callous- and even ruthless. They tend to lack empathy and/or a conscience. This is evident in Obama's lack of interest in his own half-brother who lives in poverty in Kenya, or his aunt found living in public housing in Boston.

Obama's almost certainly a pathological narcissist... the most dangerous charismatic leaders are, comes from an insecure childhood (like Barack's).

Indicators include control freakery, grandiose self-importance, feeling "above the law", interpersonally exploitive, inability to handle criticism, lack of empathy, arrogant behavior, surrounds himself with sycophants... sound familiar?

Obama is a mess- and his insecurities, bad childhood, and irresponsible, far-left-wierdo mother are now all OUR problem, too-


Posted by: ReaganiteRepublican | March 20, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Geithner’s Treasury Department insisted on language in the stimulus bill to allow bailed out companies to pay employees bonuses. AIG then exercised their prerogative to pay employee bonuses under that provision. When the media whipped up public outrage over the bonuses, the President of the United States, Secretary of Treasury, and Congress quickly politicized the issue: they issued harsh denouncements; held congressional hearings; and set in motions plans to recoup the bonuses. In record time, the House of Representative drafted and passed legislation to tax bail out employee bonuses 90%.

All the while our government and media relentlessly spouted their hateful rhetoric against AIG management and employees. In one instance, a politician went so far as to suggest AIG management should commit suicide.

The hate and animosity they generated toward the employees of AIG is beyond fury; death threats via email and phone pour into their headquarters. Armed guards are now posted at AIG worksites. One employee was forced to move his family after a local news agency published his address.

It is outright reckless and irresponsible for our government to create a piece of legislation; then publicly chastise and ridicule those who use it because it is highly unpopular and controversial.

Our government put innocent people in a very dangerous situation; caused serious stress and harm to many families.

Moreover, they worked the nation into a frenzy of anger and hate.

In the end, there is harm to all, and benefit to no one.

This situation is out of control—hysteria and hate now rule the day.

Shame on Secretary Geithner.

Shame on Speaker Pelosi.

Shame on Majority Leader Reid.

President Obama, you must stop this madness—we need the clear strong voice of reason in all this madness.

Posted by: txgall | March 20, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Scapegoating Geithner is so obvious, I'd hope people see the man has one of the hardest and most thankless jobs out there - people, take a breath and realize he's working to get this economic ship back on course, not cozy up to corporations.

He'll take blame for unpopular decisions, but he should stay where he is. Also, grandstanding Republicans need to stand down because undercutting the public's confidence in the economic system is not helping anyone.

Posted by: 98burke | March 20, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Geithner will stay. It's only been 50 days since he's been in place.

There's no deputy secretary in place to run the department if he left. At this time it's critical we have someone running Treasury.

If he were to leave, I don't think the administration could find someone who is both capable and WILLING to take the position given all the scrutiny and hammering that Geithner has gone through. Just imagine the confirmation process that this person would have to go through on the Hill. I don't think anyone in their right mind would be willing to subject his/herself to the blood sucking leeches on the Hill. Most of the nominees for the deputy positions have backed out. This makes it hard for Geithner because he has to be involved in everything. Get him some help at the top and then criticize him.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | March 20, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what it feels like to be a Secular Progressive and discover that you are the lamb to the slaughter.

Just like Clinton, you will find a long, long, line of goats who will be led to the slaughter to save the farmer.

Posted by: farkel44 | March 20, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"Republicans continue to grow more bold in their criticism of Geithner." Now there's a shocker! Real breaking news! That intellectuals such as Jim Bunning are attacking Democrats should bring us all to a state of full alert.

"Even some Democrats -- privately, of course -- are beginning to grumble that Geithner's time may be up." The key word in this pearl is, of course "privately" which enables the commentator to indulge in pure, space-filling speculation....to push the drama....to lazily refrain from any real research....and to disguise the fact that he has no real access that will gain him on the record quotes.

If you have no more substance than this why don't you call in sick?

Wes Cain
Overland Park KS

Posted by: wcain1 | March 20, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Chris, it's a pity that most of the mainstream media is promoting the republicans attempt to hang everything on Geithner and even democrats are being influenced.
I find the reporting of the economic situation to be highly irresponsible by most of the media.
Instead of informing people and educating them, they have chosen to hype the drama. They have fueled the faux outrage of AIG and whipped up people's irrational emotional side without focusing on the real problems.
And they have put on twice as many republicans to air their talking points and then they parrots those talking points and go along with the Blame Geithner.
It seems the media has a need to demonize this man since he took office and the republican sandbagging suits this for them.

I also find it frustrating how the curtain is pulled over the previous administration and their actions in regards to Wall Street and the economy for the past 8 years while trying to hang everything on the current one.

They want people to forget that the contracts and tarp was set up in September by Paulson.
Yet, fingers are pointing towards Geithner and others instead.

I would like to see more honest reporting and real, solid information on this rather then cheap ploys for drama and hype.

I am glad you, Chris are far more adult in your reporting then many of your fellow journalists.

Posted by: vwcat | March 20, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse


cc: VP Joe Biden; DHS Sec. Janet Napolitano; Defense Sec. Robert Gates; Sec. of State Hillary R. Clinton; CIA Dir. Leon Panetta; FBI Dir. Robert Mueller; Secret Service Dir. Mark Sullivan



Seattle Police Chief Kerlikowske, the drug czar designate, knows from the inside how community policing programs funded by FEMA, DOJ and other agencies were transmogrified by secretive Bush administration ideologues in security, law enforcement and intel agencies into a constitutionally-exempt citizen vigilante army...

...an "American Gestapo" that has usurped local law enforcement and has violated civil and human rights of U.S. citizens "targeted" by federal security and intelligence agencies as "undesirables," "dissidents," or "mental defectives."

Obama officials and Congress should quiz Kerlikowske on what he knows about the following human and civil rights abuses that have been reported by victims of this officially-sanctioned vigilantism -- deemed legal by the now-discredited Bush DOJ "torture memos":

* Silent, covert microwave radiation weapons assaults on innocent but "targeted" U.S. citizens;

* Terroristic vigilante community gang stalking, surreptitious home entry, police-tolerated vandalism;

* Secret federal "programs of personal financial destruction" that have politicized the IRS, which victims say has been used as a tool of "social cleansing."



Now you have on your team an official who can tell you the WHOLE truth -- so you can compare his account with what you have been told by your Bush holdovers.


FOR MORE on the ongoing extrajudicial punishment network:


OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 20, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the "Time" link [Cheney]. I read it, but was disappointed. It seems like acute insight into the obvious that the more he is attacked [by Leahy; indirectly by the furor over the Yoo memos] the more strident he becomes in defense of his actions.

Cheney has made his bed in history, but he will not lie quietly in it. There is too much at stake for him, personally.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | March 20, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

I'd hardly quote Bunning as a competent critic for anything. That aside, Geithner probably needs to be the sacrificial lamb for Obama's financial team. The public wants blood at this point (in terms of the financial turmoil) and Obama may need to let him go to try to calm the mobs, as evidenced in the Gallup poll you quote.

Unfortunately, Dodd and Geithner should have recognized their mistakes early on and they have as much of a tin ear as Wall Street on this matter.

Posted by: RickJ | March 20, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

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