Embattled Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner’s job is safe and the subject of resignation has not come up in his conversations with President Obama despite calls from some in Congress for Geithner to step down, the president said in an interview to be broadcast tonight on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
In excerpts released yesterday by CBS, Obama joked that even if Geithner offered to step down, he would say, “Sorry, buddy, you’ve still got the job.” The hail of criticism that has hit Geithner for his handling of the bonuses paid by insurance giant AIG — which only heightened the critique of his overall handling of the financial crisis — is to be expected, the president said.
“It’s going to take a little bit more time than we would like to make sure that we get this plan just right. Of course, then we’d still be subject to criticism,” Obama said. ” ‘What’s taken so long? You’ve been in office a whole 40 days and you haven’t solved the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.’ ”
In the interview, which took place at the White House on Friday, Obama acknowledged that he needs support of big Wall Street investors if his administration’s plan to use federal money to leverage private investment to buy toxic assets is to succeed.
The assets are weighing down the balance sheets of some of the nation’s largest banks. The administration is expected to unveil details of that plan as soon as tomorrow. But at the same time, Obama added, many of those executives need a greater appreciation of how their actions and lifestyles are viewed by average Americans.
“They need to spend a little time outside of New York. Because . . . if you go to North Dakota, or you go to Iowa, or you go to Arkansas, where folks would be thrilled to be making $75,000 a year — without a bonus — then I think they’d get a sense of why people are frustrated,” he said.