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Wag the Blog Redux: Should Geithner Stay or Go?

Is Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's job safe? AP Photo by Ron Edmonds

The fate of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner remains a hot topic of discussion in Washington as the political fallout from the AIG bonuses fiasco begins to be felt.

Yesterday, we asked Fixistas for their thoughts on whether Geithner should keep his job or whether it was time for him to go, and, more importantly, why. That conversation continues here.

We sorted through the responses and grabbed some of the best ones. They're split into "go" and "stay" camps and excerpted below.


"I'm not sure the *public* has any faith in Secretary Geithner at this point, and that will make it hard for him to achieve the Administration's goals. If he cannot show any progress--to show that the bailouts and stimulus spending are having a positive effect--he won't remain Treasury Secretary for very long."
Posted by: dbitt

"I think Tim Geithner needs to go. While I don't expect any miracles from him, he seems to be clueless as to what is going on....A friend of mine has taken to calling Geithner Obama's Michael Brown as in 'Heck of a job, Timmy!'"
Posted by: deckard1982

"Geithner needs to fall on his own sword and resign immediately, which may cause some short-term damage to the Obama administration but will ultimately allow the President to choose someone such as Paul Volcker, with maturity and impeccable credentials and ethics. In the mean time, Summers should be named Acting Treasury Secretary."
Posted by: billbolducinmaine


"For an economic crisis eight years in the making and that draws comparisons to the Great Depression, people must be insane to demand an immediate solution that is released, implemented and successful within a 24 hour news cycle!"
Posted by: DJAsson

"This is wrong. You are trying to make-up a story. IMO, there's nothing here. Stand back and let 44 and Geithner do their jobs. Yes, they were scammed by professional AIG scammers. Shame on AIG, not on BHO and Geithner."
Posted by: broadwayjoe

"Of course, Tim Geithner should stay. Unless there is one amongst you who can walk on water. In the meantime, cut the guy some slack and take some advice from Teddy Roosevelt: 'It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.'"
Posted by: Suzsan107

"Geithner stays. The Fix must go." (!)
Posted by: rbpgregory

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 19, 2009; 4:17 PM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Next: White House Cheat Sheet: Geithner's Big Weekend


I wonder how many other wonksters are asking for Tiny Tim G.'s job - anyway. You'd probably have to offer some sort of mega bonus to get a decent replacement wonk.

Posted by: newbeeboy | March 21, 2009 7:15 AM | Report abuse

The bonuses and Geithner are diversions. Get the rubes fired up over chicken feed bonuses. It's commercial media's job to confuse things with distractions.
The real issue is the stimulus package, a keynesian hog fest that won't fix anything. Tax cuts, pork, and deficit spending. What a con. I'm shocked that Obama and the dems went to this outdated nonsense, instead of neo liberal policy which would restore the market system in two shakes.
Please see Stimulus Redux on my site at

Posted by: Wilberforce1 | March 20, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: rhrandall08

Mr. Geitner should go, especially for good of the administration and the nation: he doesn't seem to
understand the need for a real shift from lavishing unearned monies on these self aggrandizers and the need for action to change the system by taking on its moral weaknesses, excesses and injustice.


Geithner brought the matter to the attention of the President. It seems that the decision not to stop the bonuses came from the top. The reasons were legal difficulties (i.e. the bonuses being given out per contract last year). The legal difficulties are still here. This whole thing about Geithner seems to be nothing more than a construct of the media, IMO. The media really NEEDS conflict and scandal, even if it needs to be built up by the media itself.

Posted by: Smooth_Jazz | March 20, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Geithner should stay. Apart from partisan attacks from Repubs, it's foolish to think that if he's appointed on a Monday, he'll fix everything by Friday. And give him the staff to do his complex, difficult job (his dep't doesn't have enough people even to read all the stuff that has accumulated) and have patience while he's doing it.

Posted by: bernieinva | March 20, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Geitner should go, especially for good of the administration and the nation: he doesn't seem to
understand the need for a real shift from lavishing unearned monies on these self aggrandizers and the need for action to change the system by taking on its moral weaknesses, excesses and injustice. It is a lot to ask, but nothing less will really in the long run work. President Obama needs to understand this too. While Congress is raising sand, they need to pass legislation to give everyone in this country a real living wage and universal medical coverage so we can stop all the posturing and by treating people and the environment decently, and get this country back on its feet by instuting fair trade policies and getting people to work at one job and with their families.

Posted by: rhrandall08 | March 20, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

it seems the messiah without his beloved and essential teleprompters actually has the speaking skills on par with the special olympics.

And he is not a medal contender in econ nor leadership.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 20, 2009 2:15 AM


You're just mad because you lost the election. Must be hard not having a life and all.

Posted by: Smooth_Jazz | March 20, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

it seems the messiah without his beloved and essential teleprompters actually has the speaking skills on par with the special olympics.

And he is not a medal contender in econ nor leadership.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 20, 2009 2:15 AM
King, your mom said she'll bring some corn flakes down to you in the basement in a couple of minutes. She told you to pick up your clothes and make your bed. She'd also like you to move the bed away from the washing machine. Have a nice day...

Posted by: broadwayjoe | March 20, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

it seems the messiah without his beloved and essential teleprompters actually has the speaking skills on par with the special olympics.

And he is not a medal contender in econ nor leadership.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 20, 2009 2:15 AM | Report abuse

Who do Republicans feel is qualified to be Treasury Secretary in his place?

Their last two picks weren't spectacularly successful, so I'd be interested to hear about this new wisdom they've acquired since being voted out of the majority.

Posted by: nodebris | March 20, 2009 1:40 AM | Report abuse

the preposterous notion that these baboons could fix anything is a great guffaw. Government, congress, libs and frankendodd or barry.harry.nan have demonstrated they F up everything they touch.

Then they lie to cover.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 20, 2009 1:27 AM | Report abuse

He should go. For a guy who was president of the NY Fed, he acted like some neophytes who just graduated from Wharton. Maybe he's conflicted in his allegiance: being a diligent steward of taxpayers money or being friendly to his pals on Wall Street. It's obvious that he does not have a plan or a clue of what to do. The whole AIG restructuring so far seemed like they were run by a bunch of amaterus. For examples:

1. Counterparties like Goldman, DeutscheBank etc are getting 100 cents on the dollar when a much more savvy operator would negotiate a much better deal for the taxpayers.

2. There's no need to put up additional collateral on these CDOs and synthetic CDOs due to the AIG downgrades when the Fed can guarantee these contracts since the Fed is rated AAA.

3. Dismantling and trying to sell various AIG insurance subsidiaries -- which are healthy and profitable, in distressed time is not that smart. They'll probably get 3x earnings when in good time, those units would fetch 20x. The taxpayers wont get full value for these valuable assets.

4. Why not just excise the cancerous AIG FP unit (the AIG casino) and deal with the counterparty risk separately. The profitable part of AIG can continue to operate and will be able to pay back the taxpayers with dividends.

'Heck of a job Timmy' has been involved for at least six months now. He's in charge yet it seems like he's still waiting for Paulson to tell him what to do.

Posted by: prplx | March 20, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse


A.I.G. has long been a national embarrassment.

A Special Prosecutor should be assigned and given wide berth to hunt down the malfeasance.

Posted by: JamesRaider | March 20, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

From the Andrews/Calmes reporting tonight at the NYT, how does Geithner explain away this graf?:

"Treasury officials have suggested that the New York Fed and the Federal Reserve Board in Washington failed to alert the Treasury staff until March 5. And Fed officials said that they not only alerted the Treasury staff weeks earlier, but discussed the issue with them via e-mail."

Posted by: laloomis | March 19, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I think that reporting tonight by New York Times reporters Edmund L. Andrews and Jackie Calmes conlusively shows that Treasury Secretary Tomothy Geithner knew about the AIG bonuses on Tuesday, March 3--if not earlier, since Geithner mentioned these AIG bonuses in his testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee. This is a week before he claims that he became aware of these AIG bonuses on March 10.

The Ali Velshi interview on CNN tonight with Geithner was pretty close to fiasco on the part of both CNN and Geithner.

Geithner lies. There is no transparency nor accountablity from him. Without doubt, he should go.

Posted by: laloomis | March 19, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

First of all, after listening to that farce our 'elected representatives' conducted yesterday in questioning the ceo of AIG I am once again amazed at how stupid our officials really are. Even I understood the reason Mr. Liddy gave for honoring the contracted retention bonuses. He was balancing the risk of paying the millions in bonuses against the possibility of losing 1.6 trillion, thereby losing the billions of tax payers money and possibly causing the collapse of the world economy. Now with those choices facing you, which one would you have chosen? Instead, the media (who doesn't have a clue about financial expertise, and doesn't care)incites the public who already hates corporate America, into believing their money is being stolen, leading them to scream at their elected officials. These super smart representatives who evidently can't understand anything that's going on jump up and start running around in circles trying to look indignant and assertive. Heaven protect us! I cringe to think what would happen if these so called representatives were really in charge of AIG. I don't think we would stand a chance of getting our billions back.

It is hard for me to think in terms of bonuses worth 'millions' with the type of money I make but if they have the expertise to make AIG solvent and profitable again so they can return our 'billions' to the taxpayers then I would like to tell Barney Frank, Stephen Lynch, et al, and the media to shut up!

As for Tim Geithner he does not need to be some great orator, jump through hoops to soothe people's fears, or even look like a leader for that matter. He was hired as treasury secretary in the worst economic crisis since the depression, by a President the majority of the people elected. I see no reason why the media or the public should be second guessing the man whom the President obviously believes has the expertise to handle the job.

Posted by: MaggiePi | March 19, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

The whole thing about Geithner should go seems like just another Republican ploy. The pubs know that they will look foolish if they go after Obama, so they go after Obama's Treasury Secretary so they can effectively prevent Obama from passing his agenda, while not having to take on Obama directly and make fools of themselves.

There seems to be no valid criticism at all of Geithner. $18 billion in bonuses was paid to Wall Street last year. There was no Republican outrage back then. Now there is outrage over bonuses that are only 1/100th as large? Tell me another.

Posted by: Smooth_Jazz | March 19, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Timmy needs to go.

He has no leadership skills. He was told to stop the bonuses, so he called Liddy and ...blah, blah, blah... and then brushed his teeth and rinsed off his knees. Wall Street knows they can do whatever they want if Timmy is in charge.

He has been unable to recruit any staff. What kind of leadership is that?

He gave AIG money when he was in his previous role. How can we move forward with a different kind of widget if we hire the person who only knows how to make them the old way?

Obama announce Timmy was giving us his economic plan but Timmy just kinda said, "stay tuned." Timmy neglected to pay taxes. Timmy's subordinates lobbied for the AIG bonuses. Why would Obama be waiting for what Timmy does to embarrass next? If you see the battering ram always hits in the same place, you'd be wise to move out of the way.

Timmy should move on and let someone who might have a plan, the leadership skills to implement the plan, and the trust of lawmakers and the public to allow him/her time to make the plan work.

And Timmy, maybe you should take a long vacation to a tropical island. Give yourself time to rest this off. And take Chris Dodd with you. But be careful. He'll agree with you about going, and then publicly say he's not going but really will still be planning to go...

Posted by: CJKatl | March 19, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Geithner wouldn't have been my first pick, but I believe he's honest and that counts alot. He is short staffed and is dealing with 8 years of failure by the Republican Executive Branch and 6 by Republican Congress. I believe some of the economic crisis was deliberatly created by the Republican Executive Branch to prevent a democratic agenda. What's more they won't get out of the way and let Geithner or anyone do their job. In a year if things are not better call for his head. In the meantime support him; changing horses in the middle of a race makes no sense. Hire good people for him fast. AIG should be chopped up and parts of it allowed to go bankrupt. They have a ton of sharks that are making money for themselves now and they plan to take it and run. If we only have less than 2 million, as opposed to a BILLION in waste, we've still got less than the missing money in Iraq. If we can get out of Iraq and cut the defense budget we can have universal single payer health care. Let's all look at the big picture for awhile.

Posted by: txajohnson | March 19, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Every time I look at his picture I see "Screech" from "Saved by the Bell"

Posted by: JRM2 | March 19, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

What an excellent display of ineptitude, incompetence and ignorance we are all being served.

Senators (Dodd this time, others before) who insert items into legislation without knowing the meaning or even asking,

Congressmen and women who vote for legislation without knowing its contents, though they have well-paid staff available to them who the apparently don't ask and thus aren't told,

Attention paid to the impact on their party from exposure to fat, odious and truly insignificant entertainers instead of attention to matters for which they were elected, that is the people's business,

And constant money raising,influence peddling and other corruptions through endless solicitation in an effort to be re-elected rather than jealpously guarding the taxpayer's interests and money,

All these and more produce one of the greatest comedic shows and if only they weren't actually wrecking the country, the economy and people's lives, it would be amusing.

The point: Actively work against and vote against every incumbent you can, without regard to 'party' affiliation as niether 'party' is affiliated with the interests of our country.
It isn't too early to start opposing incumbents in your district and state.

I miss my country.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | March 19, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

"Big Boss Limbaugh, is on the air saying 'so what' to the AIG bonuses.?....ha ha ha!

Posted by: DrainYou | March 19, 2009 5:42 PM"

AIG defenders Rush, Ruth Marcus, and Neil Cavuto should have their own show, "We don't get it and don't even care." BHO, keep bringing on change!!!! O-Nation rox.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | March 19, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I did not support the appointment of Geithner to begin with. At best, he was sloppy with his own taxes, and at worst he is a dishonest person that hoped to work the system. He should never have been chosen. Now adding to that mistake is the fact that the Treasury is woefully understaffed. If this had happened under McCain's watch those of you that say "give Timmy a break" would be calling McCain an incompetent, or probably something much worse.

Posted by: jkachmar | March 19, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

GOP Votes Against HR 1586 - TARP Bonus Tax - More than 1/2 of the House GOPers just said "NO".

It passed anyway.

The bill to impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients just passed by the House.
87 Republicans voted against it.
85 Republicans voted for it.
243 Democrats voted for it.
6 Democrats voted against it.

So...when it came to correcting the "wrong"- only half of the GOP could muster themselves to vote 'aye'. And their boss, Big Boss Limbaugh, is on the air saying 'so what' to the AIG bonuses.?....ha ha ha!

Posted by: DrainYou | March 19, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Geithner gave a interview with CNN today. CNN reports that Geithner now admits that the Treasury (that himself) asked for the Bonus loophole be put in the stimulus bill. Finally he takes responsibility.

(CNN) — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told CNN Thursday his department asked Sen. Chris Dodd to include a loophole in the stimulus bill that allowed bailed-out insurance giant American International Group to keep its bonuses.

In an interview with CNN's Ali Velshi, Geithner said the Treasury Department was particularly concerned the government would face lawsuits if bonus contracts were breached.

Posted by: d-seid | March 19, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse


Federal Case Alleges Political Elite Get Favorable Tax Treatment Over Ordinary Citizens

On 5 March 2009 a Motion was filed in U.S. v. David Jacquot, Case # CR 08-1171, in the Federal District Court, in San Diego, California seeking to dismiss a false tax return indictment on the grounds that the Defendant was not treated in the same manner as politically prominent individuals. A hearing on this matter is set for 30 March 2009 in San Diego and the Defendant in this case intends to subpoena Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and others.

The Defendant in this case is David Jacquot, an attorney and retired Army Officer. He is a decorated disabled Desert Storm veteran living in rural Idaho with his family.

This “Geithner Motion” cites HR 735 titled the “Rangel Rule Act of 2009,” which if enacted, would eliminate penalties and interest for common citizens to allow them to be treated in the same manner as House Ways and Means Chairman Representative Charles Rangel. The Geithner Motion also quotes President Obama stressing the need to “treat common citizens in the same manner as politically prominent individuals in regards to tax matters”.

The Geithner Motion details how Mr. Jacquot was vindictively indicted in retaliation for his successful defense of his clients against the IRS. The tax returns of his corporate law firm for the four (4) years of 2001 to 2004 were investigated and the government alleges that the law firm declared almost $200,000 TOO MUCH income during this time period. The Geithner Motion contains descriptions of numerous actions by the government and Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Faith Devine that are the basis for the claim of retaliation against Mr. Jacquot for his zealous representation of his client’s Constitutional and statutory rights. The improper actions of AUSA Devine have been reported to the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility for disciplinary action and are currently under review.

A copy of the Geithner Motion and the complaint against AUSA Faith Devine can be downloaded at:

Posted by: dave70 | March 19, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

The recalcitrant GOP is casting about for any and every scapegoat they can collar.
Leave Tim Geithner alone, dad gum it.
He's there to do a big job.
This guilt by association malarky is just an attempt to divert our attention from the task at hand.
Keep on truckin', Mr. Geithner.
It's a big job and President Obama has the confidence in you that you're just the man to get the job done.
Look to him and forget these traitorous nay-sayers.
They have an agenda and we already know where that agenda goes.
Been there; done that.
No thanks, Mr. Bonier and the rest of you blind turkeys.
You lost for a reason and we remember.
Thanks for reminding us what we DON'T want.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | March 19, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

NevadaAndy writes
"When are they going to get Geithner some help? He doesn't have any top level help at Treasury."

Agreed. Filling positions at Treasury should be a top priority. I can't imagine there are a lot of people waving, screaming "Pick me! Pick me!"

Posted by: bsimon1 | March 19, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

When are they going to get Geithner some help? He doesn't have any top level help at Treasury.

Give the guy some leeway. There is only so much a person can do by himself. He has to look at legislation, find solutions to the economic problems, deal with the banks and wall street, appear before Congress, appear before the media and attend conferences. I'm surprised he's kept his sanity. Do you know of anyone who could do a better of job given these circumstances?

Posted by: Nevadaandy | March 19, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

broadwayjoe writes
"Not telling 44 about the AIG bonuses is hard to swallow..."


Posted by: bsimon1 | March 19, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

The storyline emerging from Wingnut-land and throughout the Repuglican loving corporate media is that Chris Dodd and the Treasury Department secretly inserted a provision into the stimulus bill that allowed AIG to pay its failure bonuses.

There's only one problem with this narrative: it's completely false.

With or without the stimulus bill, AIG would have been allowed to pay its failure bonuses. In fact, at no point in time was there every a law barring the bonuses.

Given that the bonuses were never illegal, there was never any need to create a new loophole to allow them. They were allowed all along.

What actually happened was that the stimulus bill put new restrictions on bonuses, but only applied those restrictions on bonuses that were given out after the legislation passed.

Early drafts of those new restrictions were retroactive, and would have applied to the AIG failure bonuses, but by the time the final legislation was passed, the retroactive provisions had been eliminated. Chris Dodd, who wrote the restrictions, says he agreed to limit their scope at the request of Treasury.

Figuring out why the new restrictions didn't go far enough is a valuable exercise, but it's also important to get the basic story right, and so far, far too many people are getting the simplest of facts wrong.

Before the Repuglicans go wagging their finger in outrage, they ought to at least get their story straight. There was no "secret provision" to allow AIG bonuses.

Posted by: DrainYou | March 19, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

It's absurd to even ask this question less than two months into an administration facing extreme challenges.

Posted by: nodebris | March 19, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the shout-out, hermano Chris.

Ironically, in the interim, I am kinds changing my mind. It really bothers me that BHO is constantly having to take to the podium to deal with these economic issues. 44 should be able to turn this junk over to Geithner and walk away. But that hasn't been happening.

We don't think 44 should get rid of him, but do think Geither needs to think about resigning (you know, "I want to spend more time with my family"). Not telling 44 about the AIG bonuses is hard to swallow...

Posted by: broadwayjoe | March 19, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

To the Republican party:

Take some advice from Teddy Roosevelt: 'It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.'"

Posted by: drindl | March 19, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

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