Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner verbally smacked GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney this morning on "This Week" - calling his assertion that the policies of the Obama administration have hurt women and resulted in major job losses for them - fiction.
"It's a ridiculous argument. Ridiculous. It's been largely debunked this week by the people who have looked at it," said Geithner. "It's a ridiculous way to look at the problem. And this is a political moment and you're going to be seeing - just to borrow a line from Mario Cuomo - 'you're going to see a lot of politicians choose to campaign in fiction. But we have to govern in fact.'"
Geithner was responding to recent allegations by Romney that the Obama administration had waged a "war" on women. Romney said earlier this week that the "real war on women has been waged by the policies of the Obama administration…did you know that of all the jobs lost during the Obama years, 92.3 percent of them are women. During the Obama years, women have suffered."
I asked Geithner about the technical accuracy of the Romney claim and he explained "this crisis was a very damaging crisis, hurt everybody. And it began in, as you know, in early 2008. And a lot of the early job losses in 2008 affected men, because they affected construction and manufacturing. And as the crisis spread and state and local governments were forced to cut back on services and fire a lot of teachers, that caused a lot of damage to women, too."
The Obama administration has dismissed Romney's numerical claims and the fact-check site Politifact has rated the assertions by the campaign of the Massachusetts governor "mostly false." Romney's comments come at a time when his own polling numbers among women are depressed. Still, for his part Geithner conceded that the recession "hurt families across the country" during my interview with him.
"You know, unemployment - as you know, the GDP, at that point, was falling. The economy was contracting at an annual rate of almost 9 percent at that point. We were losing 750,000 jobs a month, devastating damage. Now - and it hurt men and women. It hurt families across the country," said Geithner. "There's no doubt about it. And, again, the early job losses were concentrated in manufacturing and construction. A lot of men lost jobs then. A lot of women lost jobs later on."