Are they crazy? Don’t Jim DeMint and Johnny Isakson know that Tim Geithner is the only one working at Treasury? Well, I guess the problem is defining the word “working”, after the AIG debacle blew up in the faces of Geithner and Barack Obama, thanks to Chris Dodd singing like a canary yesterday. DeMint and Isakson publicly called for Geithner’s head:
Sen. Johnny Isakson suggested Thursday that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner should resign because of his tarnished credibility, which he believes is hurting the Obama administration’s ability to respond to the economic crisis.
Isakson is one of a growing number of Republicans — along with a few Democrats — who have sharply criticized Geithner in the wake of the AIG bonus fiasco.
“I think his credibility has been hurt to the point where he’s not going to be effective, and if I were him I would” resign, Isakson told POLITICO.
When asked about Geithner on Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) didn’t offer a ringing endorsement but says the Treasury secretary needs time to perform: “I think the jury is out,” Feinstein said.
Not for long, though, and he can thank Chris Dodd for that. After CNN caught Dodd in a lie over the change in the amendment that enabled the bonus payout, Dodd wasted no time ratting out Geithner and the Treasury as the real culprit. After publicly stoking outrage over the bonuses, Democrats suddenly found themselves the target of public ire.
Geithner’s only been around for two months, but he’s done next to nothing so far — not even staffing his team. It might be time to ready the understudy, as the Obama administration might need to toss someone under the bus to mend fences on Capitol Hill after this epic fail. If Feinstein is offering support this tepidly, I’d say Geithner’s days are numbered.
Update: Geithner now admits that he pushed Dodd into changing the language of the bill:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner confirmed Thursday that the department did talk to Sen. Chris Dodd about a clause he put forth in the stimulus legislation that would have strictly limited executive bonuses.
A loophole in the bill allowed bailed-out insurance giant American International Group to keep its bonuses.
The Treasury Department was concerned that legislation that would restrict contractual bonuses would not hold up to legal challenges, Geithner said in an interview with CNN’s Ali Velshi.
“We expressed concern about this specific version. We wanted to make sure it was strong enough to survive legal challenge,” Geithner said.
Well, if so, when will Obama stop “shaking with outrage”? When will he accept responsibility for his own actions and that of his Treasury, rather than continue stoking public anger over the bonuses? Oh, wait … it’s above his pay grade. Hope and Change!
Update II: This administration’s unraveling like a cheap sweater. Politico reports that Geithner wants to blame the whole thing on … staff:
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, taking his turn on CNN tonight, says not to blame Chris Dodd for the AIG bonus mess — but don’t blame him either.
The responsibility, he said, lies with “staff” — whoever that is. …
CNN’s ALI VELSHI: But inadvertently might somebody at Treasury have told Senator Dodd to do something that has now resulted in these payments not being able to …
GEITHNER: No, again, what we did is just express concern about the vulnerability of a specific part of this provision, the legal challenge … Treasury staff were working Senator Dodd’s staff throughout this process. Again, that’s part of the legislative process.
VELSHI: But you weren’t involved in that directly?
GEITHNER: I did have with other officials some conversations with Chairman Dodd as he was going through this process but other provisions.
VELSHI: So not about this particular one. It wasn’t you telling …
GEITHNER: No, but I’m not sure that’s relevant because Treasury staff did express concern about whether this provision was vulnerable to legal challenge.
As Harry Truman once said, “The buck stops at, er, … my staff.”