Time for a talk-me-down you might not see coming. Retail sales plunged 2.7 percent in December -- you know, the month with all the holidays and present-buying? That drop is more than double what Wall Street expected. The Federal Reserve, whose statements used to inspire triple-digit stock market rallies, today stated that the economy starts the year on weaker footing, and the outlook is "dim." Cue today's triple digit market dive and the Dow's worst start to a new year ever.
So is this a "talk me down" about the economy? Nope. I need a break from that futile exercise. It never works! Instead, tonight, I need a talking down about the Republicans in Congress. What are they doing in the face of a daily diet of poisonous economic news? Zey are playing zee politics!
Tim Geithner, President-elect Obama's nominee for Treasury Secretary, failed to pay some of his income taxes when he worked for the I.M.F., and there is some question about the work permit status of Geithner's housekeeper. Democrats and the Obama team have gone into overdrive with their push to come clean on Geithner's "mistakes" and get him confirmed.
Obama today: "Is this an embarrassment for him? Yes. He said so himself. But it is an innocent mistake....It has been corrected. He paid the penalties....
my expectation is that Tim Geither will be confirmed. And my expectation is that he is going to do an outstanding job on behalf of the American people."
Already reportedly ready to forgive Geithner's transgressions and confirm him: Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and John Ensign. So... a real issue? Yes. A roadblock to the confirmation of a key member of President Obama's economic braintrust? Shouldn't be... EXCEPT!!
Today Senate Republicans objected to holding Geithner's confirmation hearing this week. Instead they will hold his hearing next Wednesday, the day after Obama take's office. According to Politico, the Senate Finance Committee's top Republican, Charles Grassley, asked for a few more days to investigate Geithner's back taxes and his housekeeper's work permit situation.
And that means "So long, hit-the-ground-running-on-Day-One!" With all due respect, we're not talking about who gets to be on the presidential physical fitness board! This is THE ECONOMY! Is this political holdup a really bad sign for what to expect from the minority party on economic issues now? Even when things are this bad?? I need a talking down!