The Geithner-Tea Party Alliance

Didn't see it, but on Meet the Press, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said:

DAVID GREGORY: How viable a political force do you consider the Tea Party to be?

TIMOTHY GEITHNER: [L]et me do the positive side of this. Okay? We've-- just been through eight years where people said-- many people said, ‘Deficits don't matter. We can-- we can pass huge tax cuts, pass huge new programs without paying for them.’ That debate has changed fundamentally. Now you don't hear people say anymore, ‘Deficits don't matter.’ You don't hear people saying that we can pass enormously—enormous expansion of government without paying for it. That's an important change. I think all Americans understand that our deficits are unsustainable. And I think that'll be helpful as we move to try to make the hard choices to bring them down again.”

Steve Benen thinks this is smart:

[W]hat I liked about his response was its subtle underpinnings. The Treasury secretary's remarks [. . .] effectively told the Tea Party crowd, "Oh, now you're worried about fiscal responsibility.[ . . .]" [T]he real rage should be directed at the Republican gang that turned surpluses into deficits, and added $5 trillion to the debt.

It's a nice thought, but it has no relation with reality. Consistency and logic have never had anything to do with Republican/Tea Party thinking and the Media's coverage of these issues. What will happen instead will be Republican/Tea Party demands for government spending cuts (not the military,Social Security and Medicare of course) with no acknowledgment of the fact that it was the Bush tax cuts that caused the massive deficit. This is stupid stuff from Geithner imo.

Speaking for me only

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    Ladies and Gentlemen -- (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by The Maven on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 11:53:01 AM EST
    introducing the centerpiece for your 2011 Obama legislative agenda:  Entitlements Reform!

    I don't know how many more times we have to see examples of Obama and/or his team essentially setting the groundwork for an economic/fiscal strategy of FDR 1937.  Retrenchment, cutbacks and "living within our means" will be the order of the day.  And no matter how much Obama tries to play nice with the Tea Party crowd, it won't win over any Republican votes in Congress (nor, at this stage, will it aid him in the 2012 campaign, either).

    I don't think you will hear (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Anne on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 11:58:10 AM EST
    calls for cuts in SS and Medicare from the rank-and-file of the Tea Party, but I do think their anti-government, anti-deficit message will be used by this administration to move forward, with the help of Obama's Deficit Commission - co-chaired by Alan "I Hate Social Security" Simpson - to do just that.

    I have a mental picture of a group of administration officials, Geithner included, brainstorming a way to do what many of us have seen coming for a while now, and thinking it absolutley brilliant to piggyback their plans onto the Tea Party message.

    Whenever this administration talks about "hard choices," you can be sure they are not talking about the kind likely to take money out of the fat wallets and bulging bank accounts of those at the top of the economic pile, but from people who simply have nothing left to spare.

    The Tea Party has certainly become quite the useful tool for both conservative Republicans trying to make it look like a real grassroots organization, and by administration Democrats who can hide behind their message and avoid harming  one hair on the heads of their bankster/Wall street pals.

    Hard Choices? (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by bayville on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:03:46 PM EST
    Uh huh. Do you think Geithner means deep cuts in military spending, raising the capital gains tax and tripling the inheritence tax?

    Me neither?

    Hard choices is code (none / 0) (#30)
    by masslib on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 07:41:04 AM EST
    for screwing the middle class.

    Oh really? (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:05:07 PM EST
    You want to get me started on this?  Let us clarify how Timmeh is going to use teabagger arguments to deleverage Wall Street on my fricken back.  Deficits don't matter if it involves paying for a war or two, and deficits don't matter when you are trying to plug up the giant gaping holes in the financial dam that is collapsing, but deficits matter when you want to rip off my Social Security that I already paid for and my Medicare that I already paid for.  The POS Timmeh would be more than happy to privatize Social Security and hand it over to Wall Street too because then Wall Street would then have some kind of authentic income stream fueled by a true economic engine...otherwise the minute the Fed quits juicing Wall Street it is going to wipe out, crash, and burn!  And that juicing of Wall Street that the Fed is doing right now is creating a huge deficit so Timmeh, please KMA.

    More Like an Inside Joke (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by squeaky on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:21:41 PM EST
    To get some laughs for morale. The tea partiers obviously could care less about anything but regaining Congress and the WH.

    Heh (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:22:30 PM EST
    Probably so (none / 0) (#25)
    by ruffian on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 01:43:53 PM EST
    One answer on MTP isn't the last word as much as we obsess over it.

    If the Administraion (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by cal1942 on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 10:04:28 PM EST
    won't fire Geithner they should at least sew a gag in his mouth.

    I agree it won't happen (none / 0) (#1)
    by ruffian on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 11:51:12 AM EST
    and even more annoying to me is is sliding back into the old Dem practice of taking on an issue but not hitting it on the head. If he wants to engage the tea partiers, he should do it on the basis of financial reform. Too bad he has so little credibility in that area, being the leader of the bailouts.

    So while I agree with benen on the general strategy, the specifics of this are not making his case very well.

    What should he have said? (none / 0) (#6)
    by Manuel on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:07:21 PM EST
    I don't see where he had many good options.  He handled the baited question as well as he could.

    Deny that the tea party is viable?  Not a good idea.

    Draw a distinction between the stimulus and the Bush tax cuts?  This may have been marginally better.

    Remind people that the bailout has been effective?  Even if true this would have been a disaster.

    Point out that there isn't that much to cut outside the military and entitlements?  He did this obliquely.  Being more direct would attract unnecessary attention.

    Mention ideas to enhance revenue and the state of wealth distribution in the US?  That's above Geithner's pay level.

    He'd better be talking about (none / 0) (#9)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:16:26 PM EST
    taking over and restructuring if he wants any respect from me ever ever ever.  I'm sick of him.  I despise him.  He is in part responsible for this horror and he has fought to preserve Wall Street at every step and never once my family.  He doesn't care if I get to retire to a park bench and sleep on cardboard.  He only cares about whether or not Wall Street is destroyed because Wall Street is what is important, not people.

    MT (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:25:20 PM EST
    Park benches are lovely spots. There's fresh air, you can feed the pigeons, you can talk to all sorts of people - think of it as similar to napping in a hammock on a lazy summer afternoon....

    The Silver linings (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:28:09 PM EST
    of my Golden years :)

    Yes (none / 0) (#18)
    by Manuel on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:29:00 PM EST
    See my comment below.  He missed an opportunity to bring up financial regulation again.  Though I dare say you are likely to be unhappy with the minimal reform being proposed (and which Wall Street is bucking).

    BTW I still see the Wall Street bailout as a necessary evil and the current cry of the Republicans (Next time we'll just let them fail) as either malicious or completely misguided.


    I'm not against the stimulus (none / 0) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:34:25 PM EST
    But without true market correction, the only thing left to do is deleverage on the backs of the people.  When is the market going to be a true representation of the economy?

    Transparency and accountability (none / 0) (#23)
    by Manuel on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:49:46 PM EST
    Greater amounts of both (and we have a long way to go) should lead to a level playing field.  At that point we'll have a chance but only if we become informed players.  I think that's the general trend but some factors (regulatory capture, decline of journalism) worry me.

    In this crisis I'm sorry (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:53:10 PM EST
    You can't take "the long way to go" when we both know there are short ways to be had close at hand, but that would mean effing the shorters and those are Geithners best friends and closest peers.  And if those people end up poor too like the rest of us, how will Timmeh ever feel elite and more special ever again?

    Disagree (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:20:35 PM EST
    As someone noted in this very thread, he could have simply said I am sure that the Tea Party will agree  with us the financial reform of Wall Street is essential.

    By going to the deficit, he made a huge mistake.

    the Tea Party will oppose everything Obama proposes on almost everything, and their big weakness as a "people powered" movement is the fact that they support the Wall Street fat cats.

    I am surprised you need this explained to you.


    I think it fits a personal agenda of his (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:32:39 PM EST
    Isn't this just more PPUS? (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:15:36 PM EST

    What he should have said (none / 0) (#8)
    by Manuel on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:16:23 PM EST
    I overlooked this obvious answer.

    The Tea Party movement is being hypocritically used by those who oppose financial reform that will prevent the practices that got us into trouble.

    He didn't say this though (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:18:18 PM EST
    And why is that?  Because he is of the opinion that we must cut entitlement programs to the bare bones and he plans on using the teabagger "deficits bad" argument to argue for it.

    Wait (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:21:38 PM EST
    I just replied with the same answer to your question on what he should have said.

    I see you got to the right answer on your own.


    Yes, the brain woks slowly on Sunday mornings (none / 0) (#21)
    by Manuel on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:33:51 PM EST
    Not sure what Tim G.'s excuse mght be. He should have hit that one out of the park.

    Yeah, something like that (none / 0) (#26)
    by ruffian on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 02:20:18 PM EST
    I think pretending to take them at their word at the very least ties them up in knots. They will never admit to agreeing with the Obama admin on anything, so getting them caught in their own tangled logic is the best the admin can hope for.

    personally I believe they are just republicans by another name, and what they are really upset about is that a Dem is president, worse yet, an African-American Dem. But if they want to pretend bank bailouts or deficits make them mad, sure let's talk to them about that. Maybe a few of them aren't in on the big con and will listen.


    Phoney baloney! (none / 0) (#16)
    by mmc9431 on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:26:38 PM EST
    Deficits only matter to Republican when they're out of power. They drag this same argument out every time. Like fools, Democrats go along with the song.

    Republicans totally destroyed the economy. After eight years of their leadership, look where we ended up. (On the brink of a depression). Now we're supposed to listen to any thing they have to say regarding the economy! Unreal.

    Tax cuts at a time of war? I refuse to allow Republicans to lecture me on fiscal responsibility. They don't know the meaning of the word.

    Geithner IS a Republican (none / 0) (#20)
    by Dadler on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 12:33:31 PM EST
    He's full of sh*t.

    Not that it would sway a Tea Party (none / 0) (#27)
    by KeysDan on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 03:01:41 PM EST
    wacko, but Geithner might have pointed out how the bankers are making it hard for them to even purchase cardboard for their misspelled signs.  Tea party demographics appear to consist of many on, or soon to be, fixed incomes.  Interest-sensitive investors are transferring what they should receive to the banks. But, then Geithner would have to explain the Fed next- to- nothing interest rates not to mention his role in the bailouts of banks when president of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY.  Better for him to join the Tea Party chorus on deficits, and even avoid, as he did, naming the unnamed "many" who " said over the past eight years that we can pass new programs (do wars count as programs?) without paying for them"

    Republican demands of cuts to (none / 0) (#29)
    by masslib on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 07:39:32 AM EST
    social security and Medicare. Not, "What will happen instead will be Republican/Tea Party demands for government spending cuts (not the military,Social Security and Medicare of course).

    Look, I think the Tea Party protesters are as wingery as most Republicans, however they don't want the government touching their Medicare or their social security.  This is has been polled many times:

    "62% of them, think that government programs such as Social Security and Medicare are worth their cost to taxpayers."

    I actually think Geithner, like many a treasury secretary before him, would rather cut middle class entitlements than anyone in the middle class from either Party.  Maybe that's why he is trying to piggyback Tea Party rhetoric.