Timothy Geithner

'A Dog Whistle to the Left': Timothy Geithner's New Revelation

Did the Obama administration ask former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to lie?

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Pete Souza/White House/Wikimedia

I am not a fan of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. He presided over the politically conceived, patently unconstitutional, and anti-free market taxpayer bailouts of banks, automakers, and insurance companies in the latter part of the administration of former President George W. Bush, when he was the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and during the first term of President Obama, when he was the secretary of the Treasury.

In those years and still today he has argued that aggressive government intervention leads to a stronger financial system because the government will take risks with taxpayer money that the taxpayers themselves will not take with it. He believes in the use of government coercion, rather than the voluntary choices of consumers and investors.

Those of us who embrace the free market do so not only because it has produced more broad-based prosperity than any government has, but also because it offers the only moral system of financial exchanges for goods and services because in a truly free market every exchange is voluntary. Coercing money from taxpayers to pay for the failures of businesses is theft.

We also argue that the recession of 2008 was largely caused by the bursting of the housing bubble, and that bubble was induced by the government. The Federal Reserve, on whose board Geithner sat, commanded artificially low interest rates that encouraged wild speculative borrowing, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, those federal government garbage cans, used taxpayer dollars to buy all the bad loans the imprudent lenders could sell them. This, too, encouraged wild and speculative loans to people who could not afford to repay them.

But I write today not to rehash old arguments. Regrettably, the government today—the welfare and warfare states in which we Americans now live—is comfortably in the hands of progressives. With the exception of the Goldwater and early Reagan years, the leadership of both major political parties has been dominated by progressives—heavy progressives in the Democratic Party and light progressives in the Republican Party— since World War II. These politicians are disciples of Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, two presidents who turned the Constitution on its head. 

James Madison stated that he wrote the Constitution conscious of the need to restrain the federal government—to limit it to the specific areas of governmental authority set forth in the Constitution and to guarantee areas free from all government regulation. Wilson and Roosevelt viewed the Constitution as liberating the federal government to do whatever its leadership wished, except when the Constitution expressly prohibits the wished-for behavior.

When it comes to understanding the powers of the federal government, Geithner is in the Wilson and Roosevelt camp. Those of us who believe in maximum individual liberty are in the Madison camp. Yet, Geithner tipped his hand a bit earlier this week in a new memoir, and that tip caught the public's attention.

The tip revealed that in 2009, shortly before his first round of interviews as Treasury secretary on the Sunday morning television network talk shows, Geithner endured a prep session administered to him by Dan Pfeiffer, then the senior adviser to President Obama. Pfeiffer instructed Geithner to suggest to the American public that Social Security is operating in the black and thus is not a contributing cause of the ballooning federal deficit. He stated that the president needed that message to go out to his base as a "dog whistle to the left"—meaning a signal to the president's political base, the truth be damned.

Did Pfeiffer ask Geithner to lie? The secretary apparently thought so, even though the government's fuzzy math can make red ink look black. Whatever the truth, Geithner's version is that both he and Pfeiffer believed the ink was red, and when Pfeiffer asked him to deceive the public by claiming it was black, he declined.

This requested deception is telling. This is not spin. Spin is the artful use of words so that the speaker needn't lie. Geithner believes he was being asked to tell a lie. Can the government morally remain silent to preserve human freedom? Of course it can. Can it deceive by lying to the public on a material matter? If it does, it will shatter the social contract it has with the people, and the officials who lie risk becoming a law unto themselves, because after they are caught, no one will believe them.

The Geithner allegations bring to sharper focus the litany of Obama administration lies. The president and his folks lied about Obamacare ("You can keep your doctor and your insurance," the president proclaimed incessantly). They lied about the NSA spying ("No, sir," Gen. James Clapper replied when asked before Congress whether the feds were engaged in massive government spying on innocent Americans). They lied about Benghazi ("It was a spontaneous eruption over an American film," said former UN Ambassador Susan Rice). The president even lied about lying ("Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency").

Can government officials legally lie? Regrettably, yes. The courts have ruled that the remedy for government lying is to vote it out of office, even when it prosecutes people for harmlessly doing what it has done to shatter its bonds with us. So, why were Roger Clemens and Martha Stewart prosecuted for petty lies about private matters that affected no one, and Clapper and Rice, who attempted to lull the country into a false sense of comfort, not prosecuted?

Perhaps because the president needed some dog whistles to the left, and Clapper and Rice provided them.

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  1. A presidential administration lies to the public?
    Shocked, I am.

    1. Every politician lies to some extent some of the time.

      But Obama is the first one that I remember who lies about everything all of the time. He even lies when the truth would serve him better.

      1. “He even lies when the truth would serve him better.”

        Exactly what I’ve always said of Bill Clinton.

        1. So Obama is Elim Garak?

  2. So, why were Roger Clemens and Martha Stewart prosecuted for petty lies about private matters that affected no one, and Clapper and Rice, who attempted to lull the country into a false sense of comfort, not prosecuted?

    Because fuck you, that’s why, judge.

  3. So Shreek is Geithner?

    1. Maybe Geithner on meth. That would explain the screeching and poo-flinging.

  4. If I read “Dog Whistle” one more fucking time today, someone’s getting shot.

    1. Who?

      1. The dog? It happens.

    2. TRIGGER WARNING!

      1. DAMN you and your nimble, young fingers…

    3. “Dog whistle” requires a trigger warning, yo!

      Time ta BUST a cap in someone’s ass.

      1. *shoots Almanian! with air rifle*

        1. No caps were busted in this shooting of Almanian!.

          1. Ammunition is expensive.

  5. Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, two presidents who turned fucked the Constitution on in its head ass.

    FIFY

  6. If a public official lying to the public were a crime with mandatory prison, we’d have the minimal government we’re looking for.

    1. AND MOAR PRISONS – JOB MULTIPLIER

  7. The president even lied about lying (“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency”).

    “Touchstone” refers to an intellectual measure by which validity or merit can be tested.

    So, with all due respect, Judge, the president did *not* “lie about lying”. You just have to appreciate his use of Obamaese.

    1. “Artful use of words so that the speaker needn’t lie,” indeed.

  8. “Coercing money from taxpayers to pay for the failures of businesses is theft.”

    Napolitano is about one edit away from being A/C.

  9. So, why were Roger Clemens and Martha Stewart prosecuted for petty lies about private matters that affected no one, and Clapper and Rice, who attempted to lull the country into a false sense of comfort, not prosecuted?

    Because the guys with guns and power to use them were on their side?

  10. OT reply to Epi from another thread:

    Wait, I thought the humans died out in Saturn’s Children (which I liked a lot) and that the robots viewed them with a sort of wonder and were even trying to bring them back. The main character in the book is a pleasure model who gets weak in the knees if she encounters just a humaniform robot, let alone a real human which she would imprint on. I know Stross kind of discussed the implications of this, but I don’t recall the robots ever turning on humans.

    Did you read the sequel, Neptune’s Brood? Totally different from the first one. Basically the book is a interstellar banking scam mystery. If that sounds weird…it is.

    My understanding is that the robots in Saturn’s Children hated the robots that acted like humans by forcing them to love them, if that makes sense. My guess about the mysterious demise of the human race was that this hatred led to killing all the humans, but on reflection it is possible that perfect love-making machines like Freya would cause the extinction of humans by making every single man prefer robotic mates over human mates, thus a childless society.

    1. OK. Go on…

    2. I just finished Saturn’s Children. My understanding was that a robots became more common, humans began to rely on them for more and more things and eventually kind of petered out through life birth rate.
      The one group of robots wants to create a human because he would dominate any robot he came in contact with because robots are programed to obey humans. They’d be able to take over the solar system with a human on their side.

  11. Clapper and Rice, who attempted to lull the country into a false sense of comfort, not prosecuted

    You know who else attempted to lull the country into a false sense of comfort ….

    1. Will Rogers?

    2. Michael Bolton?

      1. Well, I was thinking of Kenny G, but your answer is better.

  12. Ethan Allen?

  13. The Constitution isn’t a suicide pact you know !!!!!!11

  14. So Pfeiffer asked Geithner to say SS is in the black and Geithner said no. After ripping his moral fiber into a billion peices, this is the shred he clings to?

    1. It’s possible Geithner honestly believes that TARP helped. No lying necessary, just a ton of statist beliefs.

      Being asked to blatantly lie would be obviously evil even to him.

      1. I’d give him that out too except TARP and SS have been justified using similiar bassakwards math.

      2. TARP earned $30 billion.

  15. Dog whistling past the graveyard.

  16. He believes in the use of government coercion, rather than the voluntary choices of consumers and investors.

    Like it’s either/or you dumbshit. Nearly every sentence in this article is a lie. Even the part where you say you’re for maximum individual liberty. Almost every fucking sentence. I’m impressed. I don’t know whether Pfeiffer asked him to say the SS fund was operating in the black (since you haven’t bothered to source anything), but that has nothing to do with whether it’s contributing to the overall budget deficit, since SS is a self-financing program.

    Why can’t you people just say you want to get rid of SS on principle and stop implying that you would love to have it if only we could afford it? Otherwise I don’t see how you get off calling anyone liars.

    1. Tony, why do you believe false and easily controvertible things such as “SS is a self-financing program”?

      SS is not self financing. Every penny of SS taxes is spent immediately in the general fund. SS benefits are paid out of the general fund and the supremes have ruled that no one has any rights to money they’ve put in nor any special claim on the SS trust fund.

      SS taxes are replaced by special purpose bonds in the SS “trust fund”. The bonds are debt the government owes to itself and the entire trust fund is counted as part of the 17T national debt.

      The bonds are not an asset. “Cashing them in” will require reducing spending somewhere else in the budget, raising taxes, or creating other debt to replace the SS debt.

    2. “Like it’s either/or you…”

      It is, by definition. FORCE OF ARMS is not “voluntary”.

      BTW, just because you don’t like the manner in which the Judge is for maximum Liberty doesn’t make it a lie. The farthest you could go is to say it is incorrect. Some of simply don’t believe that massive govt is the best way to maximize Liberty (for some unknown reason).

      I want to get rid of SS on principle. I also want to get rid of it because it’s a Ponzi Scheme (e.g., unsustainable) that the govt used FORCE OF ARMS to coerce people to pay for it.

      Cash accounting is insane.

    3. I would love to stay in the 5 seasons every night AND I know I can’t afford it. You can say something would be nice and all but oppose pursuit of it once realizing it’s a fools errand.

      Your attempts at finding inconsistencies in libertarian thought simple expose your own inability to grasp the idea. Or maybe your simply a disingenuous asswipe.

  17. “shatter the social contract it has with the people”

    Still waiting for a copy of this contract that everyone thinks I’ve signed off on.

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  19. ” Can it deceive by lying to the public on a material matter? If it does, it will shatter the social contract it has with the people, and the officials who lie risk becoming a law unto themselves, because after they are caught, no one will believe them.”

    No one believes them now, at least not in the way you and I might mean.

    Many people are indifferent to honesty. For them, the “truth” of a statement is contained it’s political effect – does it further the Cause, or not? If you actually read theorists on the Left, this is doctrine, going back to the polylogism of Marx.

    No one believes what they say now, in the sense of believing that their statements accurately portray reality. But many people still *support* the statements and those making them. Correspondence to reality is simply *irrelevant* to them.

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