Tim Geithner’s press conference.
NYT: Mr. Secretary, won’t the proposed plan for toxic asset disposal require huge write-offs by commercial banks?
Geithner: Oh, yeah, they’re going to get absolutely whacked. [White House handler leans toward Geithner and whispers in his ear]. I mean to say, rather, that while there will be some write-offs, they will be manageable. There’s a fair chance that the banking system won’t collapse. [W.H. handler whispers again]. Or, what I should say is, everything is under control.
AP: Mr. Secretary, you seemed to imply the other day that you thought China’s suggestion about replacing the U.S. dollar with another reserve currency was a good idea. Since your remarks were widely criticized for leading to the subsequent steep fall in the value of the dollar, would you care to comment further?
Geithner: Oh, sure. I didn’t say I actually liked the idea of the dollar being replaced by an alternative reserve currency, I just meant that, what with our enormous spending plans, the dollar wouldn’t be worth very much anyway…[W.H. handler sharply tugs on Geithner’s coat sleeve and whispers furiously] Heh, er, that is, uh, no, I don’t have any additional comments on that.
Reuters: Mr. Secretary, a lot of people have expressed concerns about the slow pace in filling the open job slots in the Treasury Department. Are you making any progress in that area?
Geithner: Well, now, I’m happy to tackle that question. We’ve just made an offer to an assistant mail-room clerk and…[W.H. handler whispers] What? A tax lien on his house? Ahmm…we’re continuing to vet a list of promising candidates.
Fox News: Mr. Secretary, how do you square the notion of these alarming budget deficits with the administration’s assertions about a return to fiscal responsibility?
[W.H. handler claps hand over Geithner’s mouth] That’s all the Secretary has time for today.