He was supposed to never let unemployment get above 8%. He was going to end the recession that runaway debt and a poor housing market caused. Millions of Americans were enamored by then Senator Obama’s promises to fix the economy and restore the American economy and the dreams that had been crushed by the worst recession since the Great Depression. So President Obama appointed Timothy Geithner to be his secretary of the Treasury and be the one accountable for the state of the economy.
Almost four years later, the report card doesn’t look so good. Unemployment has never been below 8%. The debt has risen almost $5 trillion, gas prices have risen from under $2 to over $3 a gallon, and the United States has been demoted from number one to number five in terms of global competitiveness. In light of this awful economic record, Secretary Geithner announced today that he did not expect the President to ask him to return were he to win a second term, and that he would leave the cabinet at the end of this term.
Bloomberg reported today that Geithner was “pretty confident” that Obama would not ask him to return, and that the President would “have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.” Geithner also added that he was confident that the President would win another term.
In the end, however, the American people will hold the President accountable for the poor economic record, not only the secretary of the Treasury. The President provides the overall direction of the country that the Treasury secretary acts on, so any and all bad records held by Geithner are ultimately the records of the President himself. President Clinton, a fellow Democrat, understood this and famously followed the “It’s the economy, stupid!” motto to win a second term. If the people don’t have enough money to pay their mortgage, put money away for retirement, or send their kids to college, they will likely blame the President for the lingering recession whether it be fair or not and vote him out of office.
While President Obama is no doubt trying to stir things up in his administration to make it look like he is serious about fixing the economy, the American people won’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors show. The people know that it is not any easier to find a job, that putting gasoline in their car requires a small fortune, and that the economy is likely to be in shambles once their children have families of their own. Changing Treasury secretaries is supposed to make the President seem like he is a no-nonsense man who will get rid of someone who is not doing their job, but in the end, it will be seen as nothing more than a chicken running around with its head cut off.