Dylan Ratigan has clearly been preparing for his initial run in a new show for MSNBC. Today he offered a detailed yet succinct brief against Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner which covered a multitude of topics – the emails that show the NY Fed instructing AIG to hide information from SEC investigators, the uncapping of the debt limit for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Geithner’s amazing assertion that he has “never been a regulator” despite running one of the largest federal regulators in America at the NY Fed, and other points. Ratigan concluded by saying that Geithner is “standing at the front of a crime scene refusing to let us get in there,” by refusing to demand that all of the emails in the AIG case be released by the AIG Credit Facility trustees, the proxies for the 80% stake in AIG held by the federal government. If Geithner does not help to release the emails, in the spirit of transparency which has animated the Obama Administration, Ratigan said he should resign.

Later in the program, Ratigan asked Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) if Geithner was complicit in this cover-up at the NY Fed. Brady replied that we don’t know about complicity because the Congress hasn’t had the opportunity to question Geithner on the matter. They will get a chance next week, when the House Oversight Committee holds hearings on the AIG emails.

Asked if he still supports Geithner, Rep. Brad Sherman, who has generally been harsh on the Treasury Secretary and the TARP, said that “Geithner is carrying out the President’s policies, he has the confidence of the President.” After a contentious exchange, with Ratigan accusing Sherman of avoiding the meat of the issue, Sherman eventually agreed that the emails should be released. “I don’t see a reason for us to be denied access to those emails […] I’d like to see those emails to the extent that they’re in the custody of the federal government.

With respect to the Fannie and Freddie uncapping, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) has sent a written request to the Treasury Department seeking a number of answers.

“Those amendments removed the $200 billion per enterprise cap ($400 billion total) and, in effect, wrote a blank check for the amount of ‘credit’ that will be made available to the two mortgage giants,” Corker wrote of the amendments the Treasury made in late December to its bailout agreements with Fannie and Freddie.
Republicans have heightened their rhetoric against the home loan giants, which were placed into government conservatorship in fall of 2008, as of late. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) called for the companies’ privitization this morning, while Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, defended the extension of credit (and the losses likely as a result) as part of those companies having become a public policy instrument.

Amid juicy gossip stories, the Geithner case has real meat to it – and should be investigated by journalists and Congress alike. Dylan Ratigan, at least, is living up to that need.

David Dayen

David Dayen