Timothy Geithner, Barack Obama’s first Secretary of the Treasury, has a bombshell memoir out today. The title is “Stress Test,” and it he claims the White House asked him to lie on Sunday talk shows, to downplay the role Social Security played in driving the deficit.
According to the Daily Mail, Geithner writes:
I remember during one Roosevelt Room prep session before I appeared on the Sunday shows, I objected when Dan Pfeiffer wanted me to say Social Security didn’t contribute to the deficit. It wasn’t a main driver of our future deficits, but it did contribute.
Pfeiffer said the line was a “dog whistle” to the left, a phrase I had never heard before. He had to explain that the phrase was code to the Democratic base, signaling that we intended to protect Social Security.
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Geithner further writes that Pfeiffer, now Obama’s senior communications adviser, often let party politics come into play when discussing how the administration should respond to fiscal issues. Geithner says that during a discussion on spending cuts, Pfieffer argued that “we couldn’t afford to alienate our base and split a weakened Democratic Party in pursuit of an imaginary compromise with Republicans who didn’t want to compromise.”
The former secretary’s anecdote about being pressured to mislead Americans about the country’s ability to meet its future financial obligations once again casts a shadow on the Obama administration’s willingness to tell the truth when the truth is politically unappealing.
Of Obama, he comments that “sometimes I thought he wore his frustration too openly”:
He harbored the overly optimistic belief that since his motives and values were good, since his team was thoughtful and well-intentioned, we deserved to be perceived that way.
Early reviews of Geithner’s book suggest the former Treasury Secretary, who now works at a private equity firm, does not appear to have an axe to grind with Obama, giving greater weight to his recollections.