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Perriello Calls for Geithner’s Firing, But Has Before

John Boehner’s call for the firing of the Obama economic team seemingly crossed the line and became bipartisan today, as Rep. Tom Perriello (R-VA), facing a difficult race in Virginia, echoed the House Minority Leader:

Rep. Tom Perriello, a Virginia Democratic freshman and one of the most-endangered House members, has called for Geithner’s head, at a town-hall meeting in Ruckersville, Va. In a news release Thursday, the Jefferson Area Tea Party, not Perriello’s best mate, struck a rare note of agreement with the Democratic lawmaker – sort of.

“In calling for Secretary Geithner’s firing, we support Congressman Perriello’s sentiment, with the hope that by replacing our nation’s chief economic policy makers we can begin the path to economic recovery,” wrote Carole Thorpe, chairman of the group.

Thorpe demanded Perriello take his calls to fire Geithner beyond district town hall meetings and issue a news release to the media.

But this narrative of Democrats following Boehner’s lead is a little too simplistic. Perriello’s campaign and congressional office told the Wall Street Journal that he has previously called for the firing of Geithner. And he’s not the first. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) was on this back in November:

Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon and one of the chairs of the Populist Caucus in the House, just called for the firing of Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, saying that Barack Obama’s economic team is failing him. He said that there’s a “growing sense” in the caucus that a new economic team committed to jobs and American workers is needed to replace the one primarily concerned with Wall Street.

This is the first Democrat, to my knowledge, who has called for Geithner and Summers to step aside. He said that “boos” accompany Geithner and Summers’ names in the Populist Caucus meetings. Earlier this month, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) openly wondered why Geithner still has a job, but DeFazio took it a step further.

That effort, which I thought was a big deal at the time, petered out (pardon the pun), but the frustration in the caucus with a Wall Street-focused Treasury Secretary remained. On the basis of HAMP alone, whoever responsible at Treasury should be excused, and the fish rots from the head down. And between the shaky economy and the lack of help for regular Americans, I think this frustration with the Obama economic team has simmered.

So rather than Perriello following the tea party, he’s following the progressive argument for an economy that works for regular folks. Maybe John Boehner wants to join with that.

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David Dayen

David Dayen