Geithner is driving the economic agenda, which means Obama reelection strategy, too

Today, the Washington Post has a profile on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Apparently, according to the conventional wisdom in DC (such as it is), Geithner is now the guy setting our economic agenda. He’s got Obama’s ear. Since the reelection is tied to the economy, Geithner is determining the reelection strategy:

Geithner has not only survived but quietly gained influence, which he has used to press President Obama to curb the nation’s soaring debt even at the expense of spending that might more directly spur employment.

His success at driving the agenda signals his status as the president’s closest economic counselor. With the departure this summer of Austan Goolsbee as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Geithner will be the last remaining member of the president’s original economic team and, with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, one of the two remaining architects of the great banking bailout that began in 2008, even before Obama’s election.

Geithner, who was once a registered Republican and then an independent, has a faith in the marketplace that puts him at odds with many of Obama’s traditional Democratic allies, whose skepticism about markets seemed vindicated by the financial crisis. His debut on Obama’s team was also shaky. He faced questions about whether he had properly paid all his taxes, and his initial public defense of the administration’s plan for rescuing the financial industry was uninspired, prompting anxiety in the markets.

But over the past year, he has fared better, especially at pushing his viewpoint in internal White House debates. While forces outside the White House — in particular, Republican lawmakers — have helped turn Washington’s attention to the nation’s debt, Geithner’s efforts inside the White House have shaped how Obama confronts this defining moment. At stake in the months ahead are the size of government, the generosity of the nation’s safety net, the taxes people will pay and the debt that will weigh on future generations.

The policies molded by Geithner — and the balance they strike between slashing the deficit and supporting the economic recovery — could also ultimately determine whether Obama will win a second term.

Yep, move over Jim Messina. Geithner is running the reelection. I’ve never been overly impressed with the White House political operatives (yes, they got him elected against great odds when no one thought he would win. Heard it. That still seems to be their singular accomplishment.) I’m pretty sure Geithner does not understand electoral politics. And, he doesn’t seem to know — or care — that his policies could cause serious political problems for the President. He’s much more in tune with what Wall Street wants than anything related to the needs of voters — like jobs. And, the Democratic base values the nation’s safety net.

This article has quotes from Obama’s Chief of Staff William Daley. It was written with input from the highest levels at the White House. They want us to know of Geithner’s status. It doesn’t provide much comfort to those of us who are hoping the President will focus on job creation. He’s playing on the GOP’s turf of debt reduction. But, it’s Geithner’s turf, too.

If this nation doesn’t start creating jobs, Obama and Geithner run the risk of losing theirs. And, as the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll showed us yesterday, the numbers on the economy are really ugly:

By 2 to 1, Americans say the country is pretty seriously on the wrong track, and nine in 10 continue to rate the economy in negative terms. Nearly six in 10 say the economy has not started to recover, regardless of what official statistics may say, and most of those who say it has improved rate the recovery as weak.

The Republicans destroyed the economy. They weren’t held accountable and are not getting the blame. It’s Obama and Geithner’s economy. And, what happens with their economy is going to have a huge impact on the 2012 election.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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