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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
HomeNewsPoliticsTimothy Geithner Changes His Story In Interview After WH Sees Blowback

Timothy Geithner Changes His Story In Interview After WH Sees Blowback

timothy geithner

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner claimed in his new book that White House advisor Dan Pfeiffer tried to get him to mislead the American people on entitlements and the national debt, specifically Social Security. However, after a day of blowback, Geithner is now trying to change his entire story.

In an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier Wednesday, the former Treasury Secretary denied that the White House attempted to get him to mislead the public, a revelation that surfaced just days after newly released emails showed a similar pattern of behavior in the aftermath of the Benghazi terror attack.

“I was never, ever in the position where anyone in the White House asked me to do that,” he told Baier. “And of course, I would never have done it. But Dan Pfeiffer never asked me to do that.”

Pfeiffer, who was also CC’ed on the now-infamous Ben Rhodes email along with others in the White House inner circle, played a pivotal role in attempting to prep Geithner before a Sunday talk show in 2011. In his memoir, “Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises,” Geithner wrote that he refused Pfeiffer when asked to say Social Security “didn’t contribute” to the growing and unsustainable federal debt.

“It wasn’t a main driver of our future deficits, but it did contribute,” Geithner wrote. “Pfeiffer said the line was a ‘dog whistle’ to the left, a phrase I had never heard before. He had to explain that the phrase was code to the Democratic base, signaling that we intended to protect Social Security.”

But that’s all changed now, apparently.

Now, Geithner said Pfeiffer was “helpful,” and simply noted “that we didn’t want to look like our proposals … were proposals that were going to appear to some as cutting Social Security benefits to cover the shortfalls.”

Though he now claims that the administration simply didn’t want to be “vulnerable to misperceptions,” mainly that they sought deficit reductions “on the backs of Social Security,” he doesn’t deny the severity of unfunded U.S. debt liabilities.

When asked whether Social Security contributes, he said: “To the long-term fiscal problem? Yeah, because, as is obvious, it’s just a math thing.”

“It’s not rocket science,” Geithner said of the debt, “it may be complicated, but it’s now rocket science.”

Yet, Press Secretary Jay Carney defended both Dan Pfeiffer and the Obama administration’s policy on Monday, again claiming that Social Security is not the “main driver” of the deficit, particularly and ironically compared to health care entitlements. “That, I’m sure, is the point that Dan was making,” Carney said.

Geithner also wrote about an incident in January 2009, when he was on the job as treasury secretary for less than a week. Another well-known Democratic strategist for the 2012 Obama reelection campaign — Stephanie Cutter — wanted him to put on an act of outrage.

“I was supposed to have my first one-on-one meeting with President Obama,” Geithner wrote. “As I was about to walk into the Oval Office, Stephanie Cutter, a veteran Democratic operative who was handling our communications strategy, told me we would have a ‘pool spray,’ a photo opportunity for the White House press.

“The president and I would make brief remarks about executive compensation, responding to a report that Wall Street firms had paid their executives big bonuses while piling up record losses in 2008. ‘Here’s what you’re going to say,’ Cutter said.”

Geithner wrote that Cutter handed him the text, which he said he then “skimmed the outrage I was expected to express.”

He wrote: “I’m not very convincing as an angry populist, and I thought the artifice would look ridiculous.”

He also told Cutter, like Pfeiffer, he wouldn’t do it.

“Instead, I sat uncomfortably next to the president while he expressed outrage. Americans were furious about bailouts for overpaid bankers, and the White House political team wanted us to show we were on the right side of the backlash,” he wrote. “The public outrage was appropriate … but I didn’t see how we could ever satisfy it. We had no legal authority to confiscate the bonuses that had been paid during the boom.”

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