Reviled by both left and right yet beloved by the man in the Oval Office, Timothy F. Geithner was a lightning rod for controversy as treasury secretary. Before being nominated by President Obama, Geithner was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York during the financial crisis. His time in the Cabinet began with a personal tax scandal, and he never seemed short on critics and naysayers.
1. He calls out Mitch McConnell, Scott Brown, Mark Kirk, and many more.
It would seem that 2014 is the year of unflinching memoirs from former Obama Cabinet members (fingers crossed for Sebelius).
Geithner has already caused one firestorm this week, after word got out that he claims Mitt Romney’s economic adviser Glenn Hubbard told him, “Well, of course we have to raise taxes. We just can’t say that now.” Hubbard, unsurprisingly, says Geithner is lying.
In the book, Geithner also asserts that in the fight for the Volcker rule, Chris Dodd asked for incentives for Scott Brown, Judd Gregg, Mark Warner, Evan Bayh, and John Kerry by creating loopholes for trusts, sweep accounts, insurance companies and affiliates, feeder funds, hedge funds with seed capital, “and most firms in Massachusetts.”
That wasn’t the only time Brown would get his own version of the infamous Cornhusker Kickback. According to Geithner, Brown told him that two companies in Massachusetts, Fidelity and State Street, needed to be protected from the Volcker rule.
In his account of dealings on the Hill, Geithner describes Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) as easily cowed by his staff and writes that as treasury secretary he found many of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “beliefs and methods offensive.”
He accuses Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) of undermining the U.S. in China, saying the senator “advised [the Chinese] not to buy Treasuries or other U.S. government debt, warning them that our spending was driving us toward default, and that the Fed was creating hyperinflation.”
During his tough confirmation hearings as treasury secretary, Geithner writes that one senator opposed him as “payback for Democratic opposition to President Bush’s nominees,” while another said he would oppose him to avoid looking “Obama-friendly.” Geithner does, however, single out Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) for supporting him when the senator had nothing to gain.
2. Barbra Streisand got him all wrong.
Geithner spent a lot of his time at Treasury battling the notion that he was a former banker, and despite his efforts, the fictional part of his biography stuck. Evidently, for Barbra Streisand, there were additional parts of Geithner’s background of which he was unaware. At a state dinner, Streisand told Geithner he must be OK because he was a Brooklyn Jew. However, Geithner notes, “I’m not Jewish and I’ve never lived in Brooklyn.”
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