Obama: I won't let Treasury Secretary quit his job

President seeks to end criticism of aide at centre of row over Wall Street bonuses

Barack Obama tried to silence critics of Timothy Geithner last night, issuing yet another public endorsement of his Treasury Secretary as the pair put the finishing touches to their latest plan to dig the US economy out of recession.

The President used an interview on the current affairs programme 60 Minutes to insist that even if Mr Geithner were to tender his resignation, his answer would be: "Sorry buddy, you've still got the job."

The two men spent yesterday at Camp David, nailing the details of the banking bailout they are set to unveil today. The plan is to earmark $100bn to help move toxic assets off the books of endangered ledners and, in doing so, unfreeze the credit markets.

"It's going to take a little bit more time than we would like to make sure we get this plan just right," Mr Obama said. "Of course, then we'd still be subject to criticism. What's taken so long? You've been in office a whole 40 days and you haven't solved the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression."

Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate banking committee, said Mr Obama's show of support did not make him feel "especially good" about the Treasury or the man at its helm. "My confidence is waning every day," Mr Shelby told Fox News. "If he keeps going down this road, I think he won't last long. He'll have to have at least a 180-degree turnaround, I believe, to be a successful Treasury Secretary."

Mr Geithner's credibility was dented from the day he started the job after 34 senators voted against his confirmation following the revelation that he had underpaid his taxes. Now, as the financial crisis delivers one sucker punch after another, the Treasury Secretary's name rarely appears in print without the adjective "embattled".

In one widely quoted quip, the HBO talk-show host Bill Maher declared: "If President Obama really wants to be transparent and level with the American people, he must replace Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner with an actual deer caught in headlights."

Mr Geithner, though widely considered to be a brilliant financial strategist and policy adviser, has struggled to strike a chord with the public. During last week's furore over the insurance giant AIG using taxpayers' money to pay exorbitant bonuses to executives, he was repeatedly accused of seeming aloof. The White House will be keen to avoid the kind of stock market dive that greeted Mr Geithner's original discussion of the bailout plan last month. The Dow Jones index plunged by 380 points on 10 February, with investors disappointed with the lack of specifics.

Christina Romer, the head of Mr Obama's White House council of economic advisers, toured television studios at the weekend to trumpet the scheme. The government is expected to offer about $100bn of low-interest loans to private investors who agree to buy up as much as $1 trillion of toxic assets from vulnerable banks. "We absolutely think this will do the job for the American economy," Ms Romer said, adding that the administration was "incredibly confident" that the economy would "bottom out this year and actually be growing again by the end of the year".

But it is set to be another difficult week for Mr Obama's team. The fury over AIG's bonuses continues to rage, stoked by revelations at the weekend that the insurer paid out far more than was first thought. When the amount in question was $165m, the wave of public anger was immense, but now the bonus mountain has hit $218m, almost a third more than expected. Mr Geithner is due to testify about AIG on Tuesday to a Congress keen to know exactly when he and the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, knew what. While there have been a handful of direct calls – including from a Republican Representative from Florida, Cornelius Harvey McGillicuddy IV (Connie Mack) – for the Treasury Secretary to fall on his sword, few analysts expect him to leave, particularly given the lack of obvious alternatives.

The President will do his bit to try to restore public confidence in his administration's handling of the economic crisis, with a prime-time press conference tomorrow night. But once-loyal commentators are beginning to subject Mr Obama's economic policy to close scrutiny.

An editorial in yesterday's Washington Post said: "Until now he has offered a host of new spending – on healthcare, middle-class tax cuts, education and alternative energy – without calling for much sacrifice from anyone except the top 5 per cent of the income scale."

Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam