Maybe Tim Geithner didn’t commit tax evasion after all. Instead, he may just have a problem doing addition and subtraction. Earlier this week, Geithner assured people that the Treasury had $135 billion left in its TARP fund on ABC’s This Week:
ABC, though, thought that sounded wrong — and they were right. As George Stephanopolous reports, the tax-fumbling Treasury Secretary was just a little off:
On “This Week” Sunday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told me that there was about $135 billion left in the TARP fund, the government’s financial rescue package. But the Government Accountability Office, a non-partisan federal agency, reports that figure is closer to $32 billion, which is what ABC News and other independent analysts thought.
In other words, Geithner was off by $100 billion dollars. That’s not a rounding error; it’s a gargantuan mistake. Or a lie. Take your pick. It’s like choosing between “tax evasion” and “simple misunderstanding”.
Treasury continues to insist that Geithner had it right. The GAO, they say, are double-counting commitments and “underestimating potential paybacks.” Potential paybacks? That sounds as though the money has already departed, and they’re counting on some of it floating back into the fund. That would make the GAO more likely to be correct, and Geithner more likely to be either wrong or lying.
It has become very obvious that the Obama administration and its Treasury Secretary are floundering on the economy. Not only have they not been able to find staffing for the effort, now they can’t count. How much longer will this go on before Congress demands a change at the top?