New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner may have had a housekeeper who was an illegal immigrant, The Wall Street Journal reported Senate Republicans as saying, and Geithner himself might not have paid some past Social Security and Medicare taxes. Cramer, during Tuesday’s Stop Trading!, called the charges “unbelievable” and said they were “embarrassing to [President-Elect] Obama.”
“Anybody who’s even remotely connected with public life,” Cramer said of Geithner, Obama's choice for Treasury secretary, “knows…that you just should never embarrass a president by putting yourself in the ring like this.”
Cramer did say, however, that he doesn’t believe the allegations stirred up by Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee.
“I am going to give this guy enough credit to say that this could not have happened,” Cramer said, “and that Geithner didn’t do this. It’s just too shocking.”
But if the charges panned out, and Geithner is forced to withdraw his nomination for Treasury secretary, Cramer thinks FDIC Chairperson Sheila Bair could step into the open slot.
It doesn’t look like that will happen, though. CNBC’s John Harwood later reported that Democrats on Capitol Hill and the Obama team said Republicans just “want to make a little noise” and that this won’t become a serious problem. This is more a “trivial technical violation,” Harwood said, because the housekeeper’s immigration papers expired while working for Geithner but later got a green card. And Geithner has since resolved his unpaid employment taxes, which happened while he was working for the International Monetary Fund.
CNBC’s Steve Liesman said that there have in the past been disputes about the taxable status of IMF officials here in the U.S. Apparently, Geithner was in such a dispute, was audited and paid the money owed.
“We’ve seen egregious examples of this,” Liesman said. “This is not shaping up as if it’s one right now.”
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