We almost feel sorry for the guy. As a frequent witness on the Hill recently, Treasury Secretary Geithner has already spent hours and hours answering softball questions with no good follow-ups. Now he faces hundreds more—from the readers of the Wall Street Journal. Turns out the WSJ readers who sent in questions aren’t much more curious than Congress is. They certainly aren’t any more focused.
The first question on the list, for instance, ignores the structural realities of the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve System and asks Geithner, “Why has the Federal Reserve Bank never been audited?” Let’s assume the inquisitor means the Federal Reserve Board and not one of the twelve regional banks. This is a familiar query. It was last posed by beloved conspiracy theorist and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio during a hearing on the Bank of America takeover of Merill Lynch. But Kaptur had the good sense to direct her question to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and not to Geithner, who wasn’t there.
There are hundreds more questions and not all of them are as bad as that; some are worse. A user calling himself “drunkCatholic” asks, “Why aren’t you in prison for tax evasion?” Below him, “boozedrinker” wonders, “Will you please tell us all where we can find the ‘evade’ menu in TurboTax?”
It’s hard to see how any of these questions are going to shed more light on anything. Geithner so far has been adept at avoiding tough questions about the administration’s goals for regulatory restructuring. The WSJ’s reporters had their own interview with Geithner last week, and came out with little to say. Asking Geithner to answer the questions submitted on-line is a bit like challenging Tiger Woods to a round of putt-putt. But there was one thing BankThink is wondering, which would fit the tone of this upcoming interview perfectly:
Hey Geithner, boxers or briefs?