Even though I am not one of Tim Geithner’s toughest critics and even though I was one of very few progressive bloggers to support his handling of TARP, I called on Geithner to resign over a year ago. It’s not that he’s incompetent. It’s not that he’s done anything unethical. He’s just not that great at dealing with Congress or conveying a positive message to the public. And he’s tarnished from dealing with so much toxic shitpile.
A lot of people on the left hated Geithner before they even got to know him for the simple reason that he was the Fed chairman in New York during the housing bubble. I mean, that’s fair enough, but it’s not like he was working at JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs. I don’t think progressives have really come at the Treasury position with realistic expectations. I mean, I see people suggest that Paul Krugman would be a good Treasury Secretary. Maybe he would, but if you look at the background of every Treasury Secretary in history, I don’t think you’ll find any college professors. They are usually the CEO’s of major corporations. That puts Geithner in a different light, I think. So, while I’m eager to see him go and not really happy to see the White House begging him to stay, I am aware that his possible replacements are probably worse.
The prospects of being drawn into an election-year confirmation brawl could deter some who might be considered as Mr. Geithner’s successor. Among those named by people familiar with administration thinking are Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase; Jeffrey R. Immelt, the chairman of General Electric and of Mr. Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness; Roger Altman, a deputy Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration; and Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s fiscal commission in 2010.
Some Democrats say Mr. Bowles might be one of the few people who could surmount the opposition of Senate Republicans, given his good relations with some of them after his work on the bipartisan fiscal commission. “In rational times, absolutely” Mr. Bowles would be confirmed, Mr. Warner said. “But I’m not sure we’re in rational times.”
You know, Jamie Dimon is a nice guy and a very smart businessman, but it’s crazy to even float the name of a major banker for Treasury. His name should not even be mentioned because it’s just appalling to contemplate. Most people think people like Dimon should be in prison, not put in charge of the henhouse. That’s nuts. Altman and Bowles are both uninspiring choices. And it would be nice if Jimmy Immelt’s company would pay a dime in taxes.
This list is really a demonstration of who rules our universe. Basically, this list could hardly suck harder. If the Republicans didn’t exist the list would probably be somewhat better, but not that much, because that’s how things work. The Treasury Department is never going to be an antagonist to Wall Street.
And, in some senses, it shouldn’t be. They shouldn’t be at war each other. But, you know, given reality, it would be laughable to suggest ‘Elizabeth Warren for Treasury!!’