Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Bush's Fault

Things have been quiet on the Indispensable Man front lately, but that has now changed as progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans ganged up on him at a hearing yesterday: Geithner on the Hot Seat

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner appeared before the Joint Economic Committee today. One striking feature of Geithner's testimony was how partisan it was. In keeping with the Obama administration's mantra, he repeatedly tried to cast blame on the Bush administration while failing to acknowledge that when the financial crisis developed, he was the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and as such one of the most influential figures in our financial system. If he saw the crisis coming, or thought that the administration's policies were badly misguided, he had every opportunity to speak up, and his words would have been highly influential. But he did no such thing.

I had lunch with Geithner a couple of years ago, when he headed the New York Fed and before the crisis developed. It was an odd encounter: he seemed to want to convey the impression that he was in the know and privy to deep secrets, and that he was wiser than the other leading figures responsible for economic policy. But he did this without ever saying anything substantive or even, frankly, very coherent. If he had any disagreement with the policies of the Fed or of the Bush Treasury Department, he never hinted at what they might be.

As Powerline points out, the Indispensable Man was not brought in to clean up the Bush Administration's mess; he was right there making the mess! There are arguments to be made in favor of the bailouts, at least of financial institutions, but these are few and hard to come by. Instead, there was a lot of crisis-talk and fear mongering, followed by a rushed passage of a TARP fund that didn't do what it was supposed to do! No one has ever used TARP money to buy troubled assets. Is it any wonder that people are furious? But, now that the government has its ill-gotten funds it refuses to give it up, citing Evil Bush as reason enough to keep interfering in the economy. We have gotten used to Too Big To Fail. Now, the Indispensable Man is exploring the limits of Too Smart to Succeed.

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