Earlier today, we suggested eight people President Obama should fire if he wants to get re-elected in 2012. Many readers were surprised that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wasn’t on our list, given that he was one of the main architects of the much-loathed bank bailout and remains the biggest Wall Street cheerleader on Obama’s team.
Geithner is certainly a symbol of Obama’s botched financial reforms and badly mismanaged economic policy rollout. Liberals and conservatives alike have been clamoring for his resignation basically since the day Obama took office.
But actually, firing Geithner would do Obama lot more harm than good. Here’s why:
- The Obama administration can’t get the Senate to confirm any Treasury Department appointees, let alone a whole new Treasury Secretary. A long confirmation battle would be a huge distraction from Obama’s message.
- Despite the huge outcry that Geithner routinely provokes, he actually isn’t doing that much damage to Obama. One of the only surviving members of the President’s original economic policy team, Geithner has managed to bridge the internal divides in the West Wing and is generally well-liked by the senior staff.
- Obama’s staff is too dysfunctional and inexperienced to handle yet another shakeup of its economic team. After the Larry Summers debacle, the Obama White House is lucky to have found a Treasury Secretary who doesn’t manhandle the President.
- The European debt mess is the rare crisis that is hard to politicize domestically — and it’s in Obama’s best interest to keep it that way. In terms of diplomatic and economic statecraft, replacing Geithner with somebody new could totally marginalize U.S. positions in the crisis.
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