This remarkable interchange took place in the Senate Budget Committee on February 17, 2011, between Committee Chair Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner (D?):
Sessions: Let's talk briefly as my time is winding down, about our interest situation under your budget. The interest increases each year. It was 187 billion in 2009, under your proposal it increases to 844 billion, I don't know if we have a chart here, and would you not agree that that is a stunning figure, perhaps the fastest growing item in it, and all of that is a direct result of the debt we're running up, and only a modest expectation of interest rate increases?
Geithner: Senator, absolutely. It is a [sic] excessingly high interest burden, it's unsustainable
Sessions: Well, it's your plan, for the ten years, I mean that's the one the President has submitted, that's what he's asked us to vote on, it will result, and that's your numbers, off your budget.
Geithner: Senator, you're absolutely right, that with the President's plan, even if Congress were to enact it, and even if Congress were to hold to it and reduce those deficits to 3% of GDP over the next 5 years, we would still be left with a very large interest burden and unsustainable obligations over time. That's why we're having the debate, I completely agree with you. But the question though is to just be direct about it what's the alternative plan, and again, the way our system works, this a good thing, you're gonna see, we'll be able to see from the House, we'll be able to see from this body, whether people can find the political will here to go deeper and if you can find the
Sessions: But what your plan is is that plan, it's the one you're required by law to submit, and that's what you called for, and it's not acceptable, I'm sorry, it's a plan not for winning the future, but for losing the future.
Geithner's fawning inarticulateness is on full display. It's worth the two minutes to watch:
This is the same Secretary of the Treasury who only grudgingly acceded to naming Elizabeth Warren to her current position of Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and who is now, as described in bobswern's excellent diary yesterday, ready to "throw Warren under the bus". Clearly, Wall Street wants no part of her advocacy for Main Street and having the CFPB assuming the lead in mortgage and foreclosure fraud settlement discussions.
The single biggest issue for this nation is jobs.
The single biggest reason that there are no jobs is because Wall Street, and the banks, believe that the path to maximum profitability is via a transformation of our economy into one based overwhelmingly on wealth transfer.
The euphemism for wealth transfer is finance. And the euphemism is needed, of course, to obscure the fact that the nation's wealth is to be transferred to the very wealthy, from everyone else.
And this transformation requires the dismantling of our manufacturing base, the transformation of the middle class into a subservient and poorly educated and underemployed working class, with dramatically diminished expectations, and the end of all effective organized labor.
It is, in other words, neoliberalism. What Saint Ronnie described as trickle down, and what every Republican has now embraced.
And it is exactly this philosophy that is being followed, to the hilt, to the extreme, by our Secretary of the Treasury. By the man who sat in front of Jeff Sessions, and agreed with him. Wholeheartedly. About the deficit, about the need to "have the political will to go deeper". TO CUT DEEPER. Which can only mean Social Security. And Medicare. And all of the programs and investment in education and infrastructure which would be necessary for Winning the Future.
Winning the Future. President Obama's words. With Geithner in charge, it is also the perfect acronym: WTF.
It is time for Secretary Geithner to go. As long as he remains at the head of Treasury, as long as he is setting the tone, and the economic agenda for this country, we will be tied to, and mired in, neoliberal, unrestrained free-market, trickle-down, main street choking, job destroying, spirit killing, austerity and wealth transfer.
That isn't "Winning the Future". It's a recipe for losing. It's a recipe for disaster, nationally and politically.
IT'S TIME TO SAY TO SECRETARY GEITHNER: IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO GO.
What do you think?
Update (correction) -- I had used the term neoconservatism to describe Geithner; his approach is much more correctly described as neoliberal. Coffee in hand, correction made. :)