By Ben Cohen
Geithner, brilliant and hardworking though he is, is trapped within
a Wall Street-centric view of the world and seems incapable of escaping.
That’s why every proposal he comes up with is déjà vu all over again
— a remixed variation on the same tried-and-failed
let-the-bankers-work-it-out approach championed by his predecessor,
Hank Paulson. For Paul Krugman,
this “insistence on offering the same plan over and over again, with
only cosmetic changes, is itself deeply disturbing. Does Treasury not
realize that all these proposals amount to the same thing? Or does it
realize that, but hope that the rest of us won’t notice? That is, are
they stupid, or do they think we’re stupid?”
This is extremely worrying. Obama’s unflinching support of Geithner threatens to undermine his otherwise noble effort to make serious changes to the American economy. Public anger simply will not subside until the government, and the banking industry is stripped of the idiots who got us into this mess in the first place, and this unfortunately means Geithner as well. As Huffington points out:
Geithner’s actions throughout his career are proof that the toxic thinking that got us into this mess is part of his DNA.
While President of the New York Fed, he eliminated two key regulatory measures
— a quarterly risk report and a ban on major acquisitions — that may
have prevented (or at least lessened the impact of) the unraveling of
Citigroup, which his office was responsible for supervising. Then,
together with Hank Paulson, he was instrumental in the original bailout
of AIG and the creation of the TARP plan. And he was a key player in the decision to let Lehman Brothers fail.
And now he surrounds himself with others who share his Wall Street Weltenschauung, including his chief of staff Mark Patterson, a former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs who had lobbied against then-Senator Obama’s 2007 bill to reform CEO pay.
I hate to quote John McCain, but this really isn’t change we can believe in.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.