Money Men

Inside the World of Tim Geithner

Normally not one to court media attention, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is the subject of a major new profile in The Atlantic, chronicling his rapid ascendance through bureaucratic ranks to become the architect of much of President Obama’s economic policy. “Tim presented his course in a forceful way, and that’s the course the president picked,” Rahm Emanuel said of Geithner’s plan during last year’s financial crisis. “At the end of the day, it saved the United States taxpayer a trillion dollars.” Still, opinion is sharply divided on Geithner, whose moderate, pro-spending Clinton-era approach to banks during the crisis is a source of major political unpopularity for him and the president alike. “In a crisis, you have to choose,” said Geithner of the financial institutions saved by the bailout. “Are you going to solve the problem, or are you going to teach people a lesson? They’re in direct conflict.” Geithner addressed his status as a whipping boy for both Republicans and Democrats, saying, “In the end, what you care about is, what did you do? Did it make things better or not? That’s what you’ll be judged by. Now, will it vindicate the president over time? It should, but I’m not sure it will.”