By Cliff Kincaid
February 12, 2009
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.
The media couldn’t help but notice that Geithner’s performance fell flat. The Washington Post reported that, “…the lack of detail in his plan dismayed lawmakers and investors, triggering a steep sell-off on Wall Street.” The New York Times said, “Initial reviews for the man and his plan were not good…” and that “withering punditry on the business-news cable channels” made Geithner look even worse.
You didn’t have to be a pundit to be aghast at Geithner’s performance.
But wait a minute. Wasn’t this the guy who was so smart that his tax cheating had to be overlooked in order to be confirmed?
What is going on here? Is Geithner’s “plan,” such as it is, designed to fail? Or doesn’t he know what he’s doing? Or could there be another explanation?
Geithner may not have all the answers because he has not gotten his marching orders. Those orders come from China, the global elite and the international bankers. After giving non-answers to Congress, Geithner is preparing to take off for a G-7 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Rome, Italy. These foreign finance officials may determine the nature and fate of Geithner’s “stability and recovery” plan.
These top finance officials include central bank governors, who play a role in what press reports described as “economic coordination among the top industrialized nations.”
One key global player is China. “Geithner spoke late on Sunday evening with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan,” Reuters reported. Hence, Geithner was talking to a Chinese official even before he outlined his “plan” to the American people and the Senate. This was the second such conversation in a week.
In a statement, the Treasury Department said that Wang and Geithner “agreed that strong cooperation on macroeconomic financial and regulatory matters was an essential part of the U.S. relationship with China and that it was important to sustain close dialogue, particularly at this time of global financial turmoil.”
Wang Qishan was honored last year at a dinner sponsored by the United States Committee on United States- China Relations, on whose board Kissinger and Peter Geithner serve. Another speaker at the dinner was Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Geithner’s predecessor.
Meanwhile, in her first trip abroad since taking office, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be traveling to Asia, including in China from February 20-22. The State Department explained that she will be discussing “common approaches to the challenges facing the international community,” including “the financial markets turmoil.”
So both Geithner and Clinton will be attempting to persuade the Chinese to sign on. In this “New World Order,” China is in the driver’s seat.
The conclusion has to be that Geithner doesn’t know how his “stability” plan will work out in practice because he’s not yet sure what China and other global payers are going to do. Our fate lies in their hands, signaling desperate times for our nation.
Obama speaks of a possible catastrophe but he isn’t telling the American people the brutal truth at his carefully orchestrated town hall meetings. His prescription is more debt and spending – the same policies that brought us to this precipice. He can only succeed, at least in the sense of getting foreign credit to pay for this spending spree, if the Communist Chinese and the rich Arabs agree.
For the most part, the media won’t tell the truth, either. They’re too busy clamoring for front row seats at presidential press conferences.
© 2009 Cliff Kincaid - All Rights Reserved
Cliff Kincaid, a veteran journalist and media critic, Cliff concentrated in journalism and communications at the University of Toledo, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Cliff has written or co-authored nine books on media and cultural affairs and foreign policy issues.
Cliff has appeared on Hannity & Colmes, The O’Reilly Factor, Crossfire and has been published in the Washington Post, Washington Times, Chronicles, Human Events and Insight.