The confirmation hearing for Treasury secretary nominee Timothy Geithner was postponed after reports the New York Federal Reserve president didn’t pay some of his taxes and hired an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper. Cramer couldn’t believe it was this news that held up proceedings and not Geithner’s decision to let Lehman Brothers fail.
After all, everything that happened A.L.B. (“after Lehman Brothers,” an important demarcation, Cramer said, given the effect of the investment bank’s collapse on Wall Street) has been a scramble to avoid another Great Depression. The decision to let Lehman implode, one with which present Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Geithner was integrally involved, is a far more egregious offense than unpaid taxes as far as Cramer’s concerned. If anything warrants a Senate hearing, he said, it’s this.
But no, Senate Republicans looking to kick up some dust around President-Elect Obama’s so-called smooth transition are concerned only with 1099 forms and green cards. Not that Cramer missed the irony of Geithner, an apparent tax dodger, gunning for the country’s top finance job. It should be said that Geithner did eventually pay the $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes he owed, though only after being nominated. So this begs the question: If the Treasury secretary can get away with it, Cramer asked, why shouldn’t we try?
The Mad Money host got a bit sarcastic, saying that Geithner’s refusal to pay Social Security might have been a protest of sorts. Maybe he sees the New Deal-era program for what it is – a giant Ponzi scheme, which is what Mad Money senior writer Cliff Mason called it. Probably not, though, especially with the Democrats’ love for Social Security.
Obama’s campaign message was all about change. And Cramer said there’s a chance Geithner will be a part of that. But it’s doubtful the man who let Lehman fail will drift that far from his predecessor Hank Paulson.
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