Kabuki or Bust? Experts Reject Paulson’s Geithner’s TALF Plan

After several weeks of pushback on Paulson redux for TALF, the Obama administration appears to have settled on. . . the Paulson redux plan with assorted new shiny window-dressings.

Oh, joy and rapture.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will testify twice before Congress this week regarding TALF. I’ve got plenty of questions about due diligence and much-needed transparency and accountability.

Froomkin cites Elizabeth Warren, and her still-unanswered questions to Geithner are hardly reassuring:

…Treasury has not explained how its financial stabilization programs fit together to address the problems that caused this crisis. This failure to connect specific programs to a clear strategy aimed at the root causes of the crisis has produced uncertainty and drained your work of public support. Financial institutions, businesses, and consumers will not return to healthy investment in the economy if they fear that the federal government is careening from one crisis to another without an intelligible road map.

Yesterday, 60 Minutes interviewed President Obama. His loyalty to Geithner, when distancing himself from the politically battered Treasury Secretary would have been all too easy, was admirable. But commitment to a trusted deputy and misplaced persistence on a plan that has serious flaws, so much so that even Hank Paulson ran away from it, are two completely different issues.

This isn’t steadfastness, it’s political suicide at the hand of Wall Street.

And I can’t help but wonder if that might be part of the point — spending Obama’s political capital needlessly so that the tough re-regulation fight has a slimmer chance. As Krugman points out:

…the fact is that financial executives literally bet their banks on the belief that there was no housing bubble, and the related belief that unprecedented levels of household debt were no problem. They lost that bet. And no amount of financial hocus-pocus — for that is what the Geithner plan amounts to — will change that fact.

You might say, why not try the plan and see what happens? One answer is that time is wasting: every month that we fail to come to grips with the economic crisis another 600,000 jobs are lost.

This is not some abstract series of arguments from an ivory tower, people’s livelihoods are at stake. That basic questions still hang out there unanswered to a Congressionally-appointed watchdog? Not exactly confidence inspiring.

Which is why we are bringing back our economic experts series: we’ve all got questions, and someone needs to be asking them loud and clear before Congressional hearings get underway.

Here’s what we plan so far for the week:

MON: Chat with Dean Baker at 2pm ET, chat with William Black at 5pm ET

TUE: Liveblog of Geithner/Bernanke AIG hearing at 10am ET, chat with Matt Taibbi at 5pm ET

WED: Chat with Rep. Jim Himes of the House Financial Services Committee, 5pm ET

THU: Liveblog of Geithner regulatory reform hearing at 10am ET

Hope you’ll join us.

We also plan on pushing members of Congress to ask more pointed questions. At a time when so much is on the line, we need them to know we are all watching.

Lord knows, "let them eat lobster pannacotta" is not the answer.