Heard on the Hill: He’s ‘Got the Wrong Guy’

Posted June 22, 2011 at 5:54pm

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner popped by the House Small Business Committee for the first time Wednesday, and Rep. Steve King had a couple of questions for him.

“Mr. Secretary, I’m curious about some things,” the Iowa Republican began. “And when I listen to you speak, I don’t hear things I disagree with.”

King said the secretary’s analysis is often accurate, at least within the scope of what he’s talking about. Clearly this is crazy-talk, so King wanted to “illuminate” Geithner’s philosophy by borrowing from the world of ice-skating judges.

“On a scale of one to 10, how would you rank Milton Friedman?” King asked.

“That’s an interesting question,” Geithner replied. “You know, I’m not a economist. I’m not a trained, credentialed economist, so I’d say I probably agree on a lot of his things but not on everything.”

“Wouldn’t put a number to that?” King said. Geithner said he would not.

“Would you put a number to John Maynard Keynes?” King tried again. Geithner said no. 

“Adam Smith?” King asked.

“I’m not going to give you a number,” Geithner said.

King became a bit flustered. “Well, I’m just — I’m a little surprised,” he said. “I would look at you and I think this is a man that’s a complete expert on all three of these individuals.”

“Got the wrong guy,” Geithner said. “I am a student of financial crises, unfortunately, but not a credentialed economist.” He noted he follows the “what’s gonna work?” philosophy.

“I‘d rate it a 6 or 7 in terms of most interesting exchanges I’ve seen in a Small Business Committee hearing,” our spy tells us.