Examiner Editorial: Fire Geithner before he kills the economy

If a corporate financial officer in the private sector had overseen the wasteful spending of hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars without producing anything to show for it, he would be summarily fired. But corporate performance standards don’t apply to President Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. He was a guiding hand on the government boondoggles and bailouts that have enraged taxpayers since 2008. He has insisted that Obama’s $814 billion economic “stimulus” program was responsible for “substantial improvements in arresting what was the worst recession globally we’ve seen in generations.” But the economy remains stagnant, unemployment continues near double digits, and public confidence in government is at historic lows.

Geithner has also been an aggressive advocate for Obama’s flagship program to prevent home foreclosures, the Home Affordable Modification Program. This has been another outright failure, with more than 2.5 million homes lost to foreclosure since the start of the recession in 2007. Another 3.3 million homes could be lost to foreclosure or distressed sale over the next four years, according to Moody’s Analytics. The only concrete beneficiaries of HAMP have been banks.

Most egregiously, Geithner insisted last week that the Troubled Asset Relief Program “succeeded in ways that none of us could have imagined.” Originally intended by President George W. Bush to purchase failed mortgage-backed securities from banks, Obama expanded TARP into a $700 billion financial battering ram used to effectively nationalize General Motors and Chrysler, and to provide a blank check for the government (i.e. Obama, Geithner and other inner-circle politicos) to spend tax dollars where it saw fit. Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky said TARP became “a program of unprecedented scope, scale and
complexity.” Barofsky also blasted Geithner, who, he said, “repeatedly failed to adopt recommendations” required to provide transparency and accountability.

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Financial Services, has repeatedly requested the panel’s chairman, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to summon Geithner to explain how and why the taxpayer-funded bailout of the insurance giant American International Group gave foreign creditors precedence over U.S. banks. Bachus told The Examiner that “Secretary Geithner and other senior government officials have largely gotten a pass from having to answer tough questions” on such issues.

Obama economic team leaders Larry Summers and Christina Romer have already stepped down. The president ought to give Geithner a pink slip before he does any more damage.

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