Timothy Geithner is a very busy man–too busy to take a call from just anyone–according to some new calendars obtained by the Associated Press. “What the calendars show,” the AP writes, “is that only a select few can call the treasury secretary.”
For instance, when Congressman Xavier Becerra, who sits on a couple of finance-related committees, called Mr. Geithner during a busy week in May, Mr. Becarra had to settle for the secretary’s voicemail.
But earlier in the spring, on the “busy morning” of March 24, just after Secretary Geithner announced a plan to help banks sell some of their toxic assets, he emerged from a series of meetings to take only three phone calls: one from Vice President Joe Biden, one from JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon, and one from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
There’s no record of what exactly the secretary and the attorney general discussed, but all the morning papers led with a conference call Mr. Cuomo had held the previous afternoon: After much public furor, 9 of the top 10 bonus recipients at A.I.G. (and 18 of the top 25) had agreed, under pressure from the attorney general, to return their bonuses. The agreement provided the denouement for a week’s worth of public outrage and it allowed Democrats in Congress, and the White House, not to pursue the issue much further.
Later that night, President Obama held his second nationally televised prime-time press conference. After expressing dismay at the A.I.G. bonuses, he said “the rest of us can’t afford to demonize every investor or entrepreneur who seeks to make a profit.” And when pressed about why he didn’t express his outrage sooner, Mr. Obama replied, “because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”