March 19th, 2009
01:52 PM ET

Waiting for Geithner

Program Note: For more on Ali's interview with Treasury Secretary Geithner, tune in to AC360° tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/18/aig.bonuses/art.geithner.afp.gi.jpg]

Ali Velshi
CNN Chief Business Correspondent

I'm sitting in the Office of the Undersecretary of Domestic Affairs at the Treasury Department in DC.

The office in unoccupied – as are many in the building. It may be part of the problem.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (whom I'm interviewing within the hour) has no deputy, and very little in the way of senior staff. And, according to the President, he's dealing with more crisis early on than ANY Treasury Secretary since – get this – Alexander Hamilton.

It's raining outside, but the storm inside is bigger. This interview was supposed to be about a lot of things – who is Tim Geithner, why does the President say he's "uniquely qualified" for the position, and how is he going to get us out of this mess. The AIG bonus storm has taken over the news, and we'll talk about that, too.

Maybe a lot. We'll see. You'll see, too, tonight on CNN.

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Vi, WA

    Geithner may be a good at execution but he is obviously bad at presentation & management. How he rate his performance so far?

    I can't wait for your show.

    March 19, 2009 at 8:52 pm |
  2. Kerry Peay

    This phony outrage will backfire on the republicans, they are hypocrites,they have been against govt intervention in business as far as pay and oversight now they are fighting for the cause they have been against boss limbaugh and hannity agree withe treasury and Obama in breaking contracts thats funny!

    March 19, 2009 at 8:32 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    Sounds like Geithner needs some serious help. If he is having to do the whole job of the Treasury department without aides and other administrative help then he is probably drowning in work, which may account for his lack of stellar performance on the bailout so far. If you appoint someone to help solve an unprecedented huge problem and then don't give them any staff to help, you are courting disaster I wonder how Geithner feels about this.

    Ali – looking forward to your interview tonight. It should be illuminating.

    March 19, 2009 at 7:44 pm |
  4. Mari

    FYI to the nay-sayers: Obama is in California, where he visited with the governor; and held a "town hall meeting"........ Its important during this time of crisis to keep in touch with America.

    Of course, the far-right wont give the guy a break, what else is new?

    March 19, 2009 at 7:09 pm |
  5. JC- Los Angeles

    In "Waiting for Gadot," Samuel Beckett chronicled someone who never even turned up; too bad Geithner did.

    March 19, 2009 at 7:08 pm |
  6. Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio


    I hope you will ask Geithner about the AIG bonuses, when did he know about them and when did he tell the WH?

    I am not sure which is worse, if he knew about the bonuses and allowed it to happen, or if he was unaware of them. If he allowed it to happen, it is criminal, if he didn’t know, it is incompetence because after all the Federal Reserve knew about these bonuses more than a year ago and he was the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY from November 17, 2003 – January 26, 2009 when he was chosen as Treasury Secretary.

    To top it all off he is a tax cheat!

    Either way he should step down because he cannot be trusted.

    Can’t wait to see how he tries to weasel out of this.

    Jo Ann
    North Royalton, Ohio

    March 19, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  7. Dora

    I just wish that instead of giving $750 Billion to bank execs who pretty much pissed it into the wind, and no one knows where it went; that they could have averaged it out to all the US citizens who have a mortgage, and given them say $30,000 each to put onto their mortgages. That way it would have helped THE PEOPLE and the banks would have gotten their money too. We all win. Right now, no one is winning. AAAhhhGGG!

    March 19, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  8. Steve B (York, PA)

    I still don't understand how the treasury secretary does not have his staff yet! How is that even possible?! Is somebody just being lazy? What's going on?!

    March 19, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  9. Daniel Baldwin

    I am concerned with the recent notices sent to credit card holders with indications to change of terms and conditions. These so called changes include very high interest rates with the implied threat of card cancelation at the next expiration period if the consumer disagrees with the proposed new terms. With so many large banks and financial institutions who happen to provide these credit cards getting bail-outs at the tax payers expense and paying zero percent at the federal rate, it is beyond belief to witness this "financial rape" in broad day light by these greedy firms preying on the American consumer. Is this behavior endorsed by this administration? Congress?

    March 19, 2009 at 4:54 pm |

    Ali Veshi. I thought that Henry Paulson was bad. Comparing him to Timothy Geithner, he comes out looking like George Washington. I didn't like what Paulson did at least he did something. Not only is Geithner a tax cheat, he is incompetent and corrupt. I think that is what our socialist president meant by change. The only positive thing that will come out of this is Obama will be a one term president or hopefully impeached.

    March 19, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  11. Richard Cerulla

    When president Obama came into Washington & made the statement he wanted to change how Washington works what I think he meant was that he was going to put them back too work!
    We are now seeing the result of of this promise. Congress is whinning like little children. They are rebelling against everything he does and it is now spilling over into the democratic party. It really is true , 1 bad apple spoils the whole bunch.
    They are jealous of his being president! They are attacking his being on J leno. These people are pathetic! Us americans deserve better than what they are delivering. Can we just ask them to resign & go get a job on fox news.

    March 19, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  12. Larry

    Now Chris Dodd & company of incompetents are pointing the finger at the Obama administration for the inclusion of the clause that gives A.I.G. executives the bonuses. There needs to be a complete investigation of this fiasco on camera. Politicians must be shown that they are not above the Constitution Laws of our country, yes it is OUR country and we want it back.

    March 19, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  13. xtina, chicago IL

    "Larry" has a point that I think is excellent; Obama's new-agey act is so NOT like a real man. "Blame me" is what he says when he fails.

    Can you picture Margaret Thatcher or Winston Churchill or Ronald Reagan saying , "Blame me" ?

    March 19, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  14. Chuck

    "Waiting for Geithner"..Wasn't that a Christopher Guest movie?

    March 19, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  15. Denise in MA

    I must say that the President has been on his job and I understand his need to get out of Washington and let the American people know that he is working on their behalf. For those critics who think he is not I think they need to visit his recovery site and see all the positive changes that have been made in many local states in this short time.

    He has done more for the American People in 3 months than any other President. He is concerned about those who are losing their homes and those who are unemployed and other problems they face in this recession and is fighting for them in the face of the obstructionist...He deserves respect for his sacrifices and a medal for all the crap he is going through with these haters.

    March 19, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  16. Winston

    Does anyone out there care if Bush can raise enough money for his new presidential library, what a joke, ha, we should all take up a collection to have a new jail built for him and all his cheese eating rat buddies, that helped loot America for the last eight years, on his watch. Enstein, Huntington Beach, Ca.

    March 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  17. KAZ

    I don't give anyone a break who lies. !!!! They lied. If they said we missed it or overlooked it that would be one thing. But to now have to backtrack on what they said it and embaressment. How can anyone of you think that this is okay? No matter how you voted a cover-up is a cover-up and we should not let them get away with it.

    March 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  18. Joe G. (Illinois)

    Cash Flow.. Cash Flows.. That's the secret of a recovery. Not inflating Housing Bubbles that have already bursted.. Ask Tim Geithner to do some river dance on stage.. The money that people would pay to see the show would be a positive Cash Flow.. Lesson over for now.. And where is the Press Secretary.. Is he getting along with Obama? Or is he having problems too?

    March 19, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  19. Larry

    Obama' 'Martyr complex' is getting pretty old.' I'm Barack Obama, blame me and not the incompetent elected and appointed officials in government. '

    So President Obama, you want us to expect 'imperfection'?

    March 19, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  20. xtina, chicago IL

    How can anyone take Geithner seriously? Every time I look at him, I just think: tax cheat.

    March 19, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  21. Isabel

    Besides the economic crisis, a political crisis

    It seemed it was only a economic crisis, but now it seems that is having a political crisis in government. The problem is that Timothy Geithner knew that the AIG would pay millionaires bonuses to their executives.

    And at this time everything conspires against. Everyone remembers that story that Timothy Geithner had not collected tax on the income earned when he was an official of the IMF.

    Geithner was president of the NY Fed, which has power over the NY banks and insurance companies headquartered in the city, in this case AIG.

    This further weakens the argument of the President Obama that the government had failed to supervise the AIG.
    Of course I had – and has.
    How does the government put all that money in a company and not want to know what is happening there?

    Ali Velshi, your conversation will be great!

    March 19, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  22. Dick Morris

    Regarding the release of names of the AIG personnel who received
    large bonues, and some saying they can't be released because their lives might be in danger, one could ask why they couldn't take some of the money from their RIDICULOUSLY large bonuses and hire their own security guards??? I vote to release the names and let them protect themselves. They have the means to hire guards if necessary.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  23. Frank Almendarez

    Our Plate is full, this use to be music to my ears because it meant that I was going to have a good warm meal. Today it means "please forgive if I am eating my soup with a fork" I am still learning what I am doing wrong.

    Who is Obama talking too, the people of the United States or could it be his wife.

    Maybe his trying to tell her to stop going down to the shelters to help serve food to the homeless and stay closer to home and help him out.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  24. Marilyn Abram

    What is this world coming to. Companies get billions of dollars in bailout money only to redirect that money to themselves and their executives for BONUSES!!!!! I would love to be a recipient of some money as well but I remember many years ago when our printing business needed capital invested to keep our company going, we applied for a federal development bank loan. My 67 year-old mother who was a pensioner had to guarantee the loan for us, in addition to our house for collateral, our insurance policies, our furniture and almost our three children as well. What's wrong with this picture? You give out money like candy and no questions asked. No legal and binding agreements signed. No restrictions put in place as to where this money can go and should go. I cannot believe this was not screened and scrutinized under a microscope. Shame on you for not doing your homework.

    Once again, it's the taxpayers on the hook financially!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  25. Frank Almendarez

    Students that come to class un-prepared perform poorly; I guess that gives them an excuse.

    Could this be the reason why Obama has not filled all positions in Congress????

    When things happen, the excuse is we are short handed; bad things or mistakes are going to happen.

    Our plate is full, so why do we keep getting back in line to serve us more food if we have not finished what is on our plate..???

    I remember back in school, this was called “being greedy".

    Let’s finish what is on our plate before we go up for seconds.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  26. Sharon S

    And You might ask Mr Geithner when exactly is he planning on paying his taxes? And why is he exempt from penalties, unlike most working Americans who are penalized for not paying on time?

    Does working for the corrupt Government mean you get more perks than the greedy idiots on Wall Street?

    March 19, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  27. Sharon S

    Well maybe if Obama would get his butt back to DC and do his J.O.B. instead of running around the country doing more speeches he could get the White House offices straight and filled!

    Mr. Obama is NOT and I quote "NOT" a RockStar as he seems to believe he is! He was supposed to BE the PResident but I have yet to see him do anything but Talk!

    Why don't you do an interview with him and ask him when exactly does he plan on actually DOING his JOB!

    I am rather sick of all the smoke he keeps blowing up my rear!

    I need Action NOT words!

    March 19, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  28. Frank Almendarez

    I would have trouble winning baseball games without any fielders to back -up my infielders.

    Obama likes to play basketball, he should know you can not win with just 3 players on the court or on your team.

    Could this be how Geithner feels?

    March 19, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  29. Frank W. New Mexico

    I really believe it's time for Turbo Tax Tim to step down and for Barack to get someone in the office that has enough respect to be able to get some help at least. Maybe Tim is a good guy. I don't know him, but he is not getting the job done and right now the big hangup in the economy is the banking and finance.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  30. Lee Cannefax

    Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has a more daunting task than most of us can fathom. Additionally he must live under the microscope that is politics in Washington. It seems to me that the opposition party and a story hungry media is willing to derail this guy before he has a chance to seceed or fail; with get this no one warming up in the "bull pen". The list is long of those waiting for failure so they can claim "I told you so". That mentality seems so unproductive and I wish un American; yet true.
    The President has told us not to expect perfection. We all know this crisis is unprecedented. I propose a moratorium on attacking the secretary for 12 months. Give this team a chance and then beat them up !!!

    March 19, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  31. Mari

    Geeeez..... its amazing how impatient we, Americans, are! Fast-food has really done a number on us.

    Geithner does not have a deputy, offices are empty....... duh.

    Obama & Geithner are facing an insurmountable financial disaster! Give these men a break, already!

    We want everything, now..... quick.... but life's much more complicated. Mr. Velshi, considering that the Obama Administration inherited the biggest economic disaster since the Great Depression, please cut them some slack! They are on the job, doing all they can.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  32. Larry

    Ali, I hope you ask him what he knew about A.I.G. when he was with the New York Federal Reserve.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  33. Michael "C" Lorton, VA

    It is getting "hotter" for the Secretary of the Treasurer-–Mr. President---maybe, just maybe Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner could use some assistance? He is drowning--at least throw him a life raft.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:01 pm |