Appearing behind a podium that proclaimed, “Financial Stability and Recovery,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday carefully read from a teleprompter and provided what his flack said was a “comprehensive” plan. It was not comprehensive in any way. It seemed so amateurish and shallow that the market dropped and commentators and senators were almost incredulous at the lack of detail.
But what were they expecting? Geithner doesn’t know the details because he hasn’t been given them yet. Those who expected the details of the plan were operating under the false assumption that the Treasury Secretary―and by extension, the U.S. Government―is in practical control and charge of the U.S. economy.
Geithner’s performance followed President Obama having advertised Geithner’s appearance in advance by saying, “He’s going to be terrific. I’m going to make sure that Tim gets his moment in the sun.” The sun? One analyst said Geithner looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
It turns out the speech, which did mention the spending of trillions of dollars, was delivered in the Treasury Department’s “Cash Room.” No kidding.
Senator Orrin Hatch had voted to confirm Geithner, saying that he “is not merely acceptable for the job―he is highly qualified.” That was largely because of his role as President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank in previous financial bailouts that have yet to succeed. Hatch understood this, but said that Geithner’s recognition that mistakes had occurred “makes him more valuable, in my view, in the continuing effort to right our economic ship.”
Why is he so valuable? It’s not because he learns from his mistakes. As we have argued in previous columns, Geithner is valuable because he is a major player in the global financial community, a prominent figure in the “Group of Thirty” organization of central bankers and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a former employee of Kissinger Associates and lived in China and speaks Chinese. His father, Peter Geithner, is a former top official of the Ford Foundation who knew Obama’s mother when she was working on “microfinance” in Indonesia.
It would be a serious mistake to say that Geithner is incompetent. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Essentially, his programmed performance was designed to send the message to the American people and the Congress that we can’t be trusted with the details, even when they are available. It was pathetic to watch our elected senators at a subsequent hearing pleading for details. But it was also a “teaching moment.” This is out of our hands. This is the “New World Order” and we had better get used to it.