With all of the bad economic news, and especially in light of the recent S&P downgrade, many expected this year to be the last for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Geithner had been vocal about not wanting to stay in the position long and he’s a polarizing figure, even within those who would consider themselves supporters of the administration. But yesterday Geithner announced he would stay on as Treasury Secretary though the fall of 2012.
Talking Points Memo issues a fair critique of Geithner noting that his tenure has probably been the most difficult of any Treasury Secretary since World War II.
What’s nice about the TPM piece is that it acknowledges that while Geithner and the administration have fumbled on some issues — like whether the 2009 stimulus was big enough or whether they were too easy on the big banks — by in large the administration has gotten most economic questions right. Or at least not wrong.
Perhaps that is damning by faint praise. But Geithner inherited an economy in full-seizure. The Commerce Department recently revised key economic indicators from the 2007-2009 recession that show a contraction of almost 9% annually. That’s what the Obama administration met on day one.
So the fact that Geithner, and the Obama administration, kept this economy afloat is a tremendous accomplishment. And those Commerce Department numbers place in greater context the sluggish recovery and the stalled job growth.
The other question to consider is whether or not Geithner agreed to stay on in part because the administration was simply not up for a confirmation fight with Congress. We’ve seen how Congressional Republicans negotiated with the full faith and credit of the American economy, imagine what they would demand in exchange for confirmation of a new Treasury Secretary.
Photo from World Economic Forum via flickr.