GOP Rep. Calls for Geithner’s Ouster

By Caitlin Taylor

Mar 18, 2009 11:12am

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf and Rick Klein report:

A Republican member of Congress today called on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to "resign or be fired," as scrutiny grows over Geithner’s handling of the bonuses due to AIG executives.

"The Treasury Department is in disarray," Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., said in a statement. "Timothy Geithner should either resign or be fired for the good of the country, and President Obama should nominate a new Treasury Secretary with the experience and leadership skills America deserves.” He added: "Quite simply, the Timothy Geithner experience has been a disaster."

Geithner has had a troubled 51-day tenure as Treasury secretary, starting with problems with his own taxes and extending through his handling of the AIG matter. Geithner headed the New York branch of the Federal Reserve when the initial federal bailout of the company was designed, and the Obama administration has said he tried and failed to get AIG to cancel the bonuses when they came to light last week.

Congressional aides said Mack appears to be the first member of Congress to ask for Geithner to be ousted from his job.

ABC News has asked the Treasury Department for a response.

UPDATE: I am told that a second House Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the ranking member of the House Government Reform Committee, will be putting out a statement shortly calling on Secretary Geithner to resign. He’ll be citing today’s AIG testimony, specifically making the argument that Geithner should have known about the AIG bonuses when he headed the New York Fed, or at least found out about them and alerted the president to them earlier, as Treasury Secretary.

"Secretary Geithner either didn’t know about the bonuses, and was grossly negligent, or he did know and failed to bring this to the president’s attention," Issa said. "Either way, the end result has been a significant waste of taxpayer dollars and he should take immediate responsibility and resign."

While House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said earlier today on a radio show that Geithner is "on thin ice," but he stopped short of calling for the Cabinet official to resign or be fired, like Mack.

"We need to know what the administration knew and when they knew it," Boehner said of the AIG bonus scandal.

However, some Democratic lawmakers are still on Geithner’s side. Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., offered lukewarm support for the secretary.

"President Obama has expressed his faith in Secretary Geithner,” Hodes said. “I think Secretary Geithner is doing generally a good job, and I’m hoping that he’s learning quickly how difficult the job he faces is."

In Geithner’s defense, Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass., said: "I have questions like anybody else, but let’s be serious. He’s still new on the job. He hasn’t been able to get anybody else appointed or actually confirmed by the Senate. So, I think it’s a little too early to pass that judgment.  I actually think it would become a distraction to worry about that right now. The guy is well-qualified. Let’s give him a chance to work or not work out.”

ABC News’ Charles Herman reports that some speculators are starting to put money on Geithner’s odds of remaining in office. Futures trading website Intrade last week had the odds of him leaving by the end of December around 22 percent. It’s up around 35 percent now.

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