Lew to Treasury

President Obama has appointed his current White House Chief of Staff, Jack Lew, to replace Tim Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury.

Lew has been Director of the Office of Management and Budget twice, under Clinton and Obama, so he knows his numbers.

A solid, uncontroversial pick.

Poor Hannity won’t be able to sneer about “tax cheat Tim Geithner” anymore, although I’m sure he’ll find disparaging things to say about Lew.  Right now he’s very busy smearing Chuck Hagel.  So many hated Obama appointees, so little time.

Geithner — I’m Outta Here

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner plans to leave by the end of this month.  He’ll be gone before the sh*t hits the fan on the debt ceiling, the sequester, and the continuing resolution for the budget.  Fun times!

White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, poor thing, is expected to succeed him.  Unless he goes on Sunday talk shows and says anything about Benghazi.

Not Budging from the Bottom of the Cliff

If we needed any further proof that markets are irrational, we see it today in the stock market’s rise of 308 points.  Yes, the deal reached on the fiscal cliff was better than nothing, but only slightly.  It postponed much more than it solved.

The markets can climb if they want to, but as for me, I’m going to sit here at the bottom of the cliff.  I see no point in trekking back up only to tumble again in a couple of months.

Once Tim Geithner can no longer find spare change in Treasury’s couch cushions, we’ll hit the debt ceiling in a couple of months.  I laughed last night when the President said he won’t negotiate on that.   He’s going to hold his breath till the world’s economy turns blue?

The sequester that got “delayed” in this deal for 60 days will come up again at the same time as the debt ceiling.

Finally, the latest “continuing resolution” we limp along with in lieu of a real budget expires at the end of March.  So another fight.

I expect the Tea Party will make the coming battles over the debt ceiling, sequester, and budget make the one we just concluded look like, well, like a tea party.

Paychecks Won’t Change Even Without Fiscal Cliff Deal

We’ve been told that if a fiscal cliff staircase deal doesn’t get done by 1/1/13, whenever it does get done, it will be retroactive to the beginning of 2013 as to middle class taxes, so their taxes really won’t go up.

But Timothy Geithner also has the power to keep payroll withholding the same next year*, so not only won’t taxes go up, but paychecks will stay the same even without a deal.

Keeping consumer spending power the same goes a long way to controlling economic damage from the failure to make a deal.  Hang tough, Mr. President.

See “Geithner Keeps Withholding Freeze as Weapon to Curb Cliff,” Richard Rubin, Bloomberg

Mitt Should Keep His Mouth Shut

This is a challenging moment in our relations with China.  We have been getting cooperation from them on Iran, Syria, North Korea, and the valuation of their currency.  Now, relations are strained because of dissident Chen Guangcheng’s escape from house arrest and flight to the U. S. embassy in Beijing.  The Obama Administration wants to help Mr. Chen and his family without derailing the progress we have made with China on vital national security issues.

The timing is especially bad, given that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner are on their way to China for long-scheduled meetings.

So when he should just shut up and let the President handle this crisis (which some are calling the most serious with China since Tiananmen Square back in 1989), Mitt Romney jumps in to declare that we must confront the Chinese on their one-child policy.  The President is in a delicate diplomatic situation, and Mitt uses the moment for a purely political shout-out to the pro-life Republican base.

Great pandering, Mitt!  Leadership?  Statesmanship?  Not so much.