Last-Minute Switch Doomed Geithner Speech

Old plan went bad, new one wasn't ready; he had to stay vague
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Feb 17, 2009 9:47 AM CST
Treasury Secretary of the US Timothy Geithner arrives at a Rome hotel on the occasion of the first day of the G7 (Group of Seven) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, in Rome, Feb. 13, 2009.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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(Newser) – Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was supposed to ride in on a white steed and save our financial system—only as he made his charge, the would-be knight got thrown from his horse and landed with a thud. Now the Washington Post reports that Geithner changed course only days before rolling out his bank plan, abandoning the one he’d been developing. That didn’t leave enough time to flesh out his new proposal—hence his unsettling vagueness.

The original plan, Geithner worried, would struggle in Congress: It had a huge price tag, looked like a gift to shareholders, and, like the Bush administration plan, lacked an efficient way of pricing toxic assets. Geithner and his aides decided it was better to be vague than to present a plan they wouldn’t stand behind—then scrambled to piece together a new plan, handicapped all the while by a shortage of staff and unduly grand expectations, notes the Post.