With a little less than two months to go before January 20, the agony and anticipation inside the New York Times columnists’ office appear to be increasing. Yesterday, Gail Collins suggested that President Bush and Vice President Cheney resign immediately, handing the presidency over to Nancy Pelosi, who then would let Barack Obama take effective control of things. “Seriously,” Collins wrote, in case anyone thought that wasn’t a carefully thought-out suggestion. Today, Thomas Friedman writes that “If I had my druthers right now we would convene a special session of Congress, amend the Constitution and move up the inauguration from Jan. 20 to Thanksgiving Day.” But alas, Friedman knows it just can’t be done in time.
So apparently we’re going to have to wait until the inauguration day specified in the 20th amendment. Ahem. But finally, the day will come, and the first thing Obama will do is…not touch the Bush tax cuts. In addition to proposing a “vast economic stimulus plan,” the Times news pages report today, Obama is “said to be reconsidering a key campaign pledge: his proposal to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. According to several people familiar with the discussions, he might instead let those tax cuts expire as scheduled in 2011, effectively delaying any tax increase while he gives his stimulus plan a chance to work.”
Back in the debates, John McCain said, “I know that the worst thing we could possibly do is to raise taxes on anybody.” Apparently Obama now agrees. So the columnists will have to wait for January 20 for the richest Americans to see their too-low taxes remain untouched, at least for another year.
But don’t worry. Change will definitely come to the Treasury Department, in the form of new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. From yesterday’s Washington Post:
Geithner has worked closely with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. to devise responses to the most critical events of the market turmoil, including the bailouts of the investment bank Bear Stearns and the insurance giant American International Group…
Under Geithner, the Treasury would not be expected to alter its approach to the financial crisis — or how to spend the $700 billion in emergency rescue funding approved by Congress last month, though skepticism is building among lawmakers about whether Paulson has devised the right remedy to the problems.
Other than Paulson, no one had more say than Geithner in bailing out Bear Stearns in March or in the events leading up to the bankruptcy filing of the investment bank Lehman Brothers. He also was the primary architect of the $85 billion loan to rescue AIG, and then increased that amount to a total of $152 billion as the company’s woes continued. All of those actions have been criticized and debated by lawmakers and economists, who say the moves have contributed to the financial system’s turmoil.
Can anyone wait until January 20?