Former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner appears to be alleging that the White House asked him to lie during an appearance on the Sunday talk shows, telling him to say that Social Security doesn’t contribute to the deficit, when it does.
From Geithner’s new book out today, “Stress Test Reflections in Financial Crises:”
I remember during one Roosevelt Room prep session before I appeared on the Sunday shows, I objected when Dan Pfeiffer wanted me to say Social Security didn’t contribute to the deficit. It wasn’t a main driver of our future deficits, but it did contribute.
Pfeiffer said the line was a ‘dog whistle’ to the left, a phrase I had never heard before. He had to explain that the phrase was code to the Democratic base, signaling that we intended to protect Social Security.
In fact, taxpayer funds from general revenues – not just the payroll tax – are NOW being used to pay Social Security beneficiaries. Pfeiffer surely knew this.
But if one wanted to be charitable – one doesn’t, but if one did – one would speculate that Geithner corrected Pfeiffer and Pfeiffer said, “Oh, I didn’t know that.”
But judging by the White House response today, we have a he said, he said on our hands.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Pfeiffer surely told Geithner to say Social Security is not a main driver of the deficits. But Geithner is pretty clear that this is exactly what Pfeiffer did not say.
Reporting on Fox News a few minutes ago, Ed Henry said a “source close to Geithner” said Geithner didn’t mean to say the White House was sending him forth to mislead people on the Sunday talk shows.
Sounds like reeling it back in to me.
What’s more, of course, there seems to be a bit of pattern about these prep sessions. My suggestion is, next time an administration official appears on a Sunday talk show, go make a mimosa and do the crossword puzzle.