Saturday, August 6, 2011
As Easy as ABC, Anybody But Corzine
By Alan Caruba
As a lifetime resident of New Jersey, the rumor circulating that President Obama may appoint Jon Corzine, its former Governor, to replace Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, is frightening beyond description.
Corzine was a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs with Hank Paulson. Paulson later served as President Bush’s last Secretary of the Treasury. At this point in our nation’s history, it’s worth noting that a succession of Goldman Sachs alumni in that office has helped to drive the nation into a financial ditch.
When Geithner was under consideration for his present position, there was criticism that he was too closely allied with Wall Street in general and Goldman Sachs in particular, a major beneficiary of the AIG bailout in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Geithner has presided over the first credit rating downgrade in the nation’s history and should most certainly resign or be fired, but the appointment of Corzine would just continue the disaster that passes for the nation’s financial policies.
Corzine was pushed out of Goldman Sachs in a 1999 palace coup said to have been led by Paulson. He left with millions and began to spend some of them to get himself elected a U.S. Senator from New Jersey. While there, he sponsored 127 bills of which 120 never made it out of committee and only one of which was successfully enacted.
Apparently bored with the pace of life in the Senate, he ran for Governor of New Jersey in 2005, again using his millions to essentially buy the office. His former wife, Joanne Doughtery, his high school sweetheart, famously said that Corzine “let his family down and he’ll probably let New Jersey down, too.”
In a Democrat, blue State, Corzine was defeated by Republican Chris Christie after voters grew tired of him for a variety of reasons, not all of which were political..
A romantic relationship with Carla Katz, president of the Communications Workers of America contributed to the voter’s loss of confidence. They had lived together from 2002 to 2004 and the breakup included a $6 million settlement for Katz. They stayed close enough to raise concerns about Corzine’s political decisions. In March 2009 ethical charges against Katz resulted in her being expelled from her job for having allegedly spent $138,000 of union funds on personal and political expenses.
Corzine also was damaged tangentially by a major corruption probe that led, in July 2009, to the arrests of 44 New Jersey officials, of which 43 were Democrats. His handling of the event began to erode his approval ratings.
While serving as Governor, New Jersey was ranked as the worst business climate of any state by the Tax Foundation. New Jersey had the highest tax burden in the nation. Given President Obama’s and the Congressional Democrat’s demand for higher taxes, appointing Corzine to be the next Secretary of the Treasury would simply be more of the same.
As Governor, Corzine proposed eliminating New Jersey’s property tax rebates that provided some relief for homeowners and, in June 2008, he cut $382.5 million from the program. Earlier, in 2006, he ran into resistance from Democrats in the State Assembly when he wanted to raise the State’s sales tax. He shut down the State for ten days until a compromise was worked out that led to the increase, but allocated half the revenue to provide direct property tax relief.
How likely is it that Corzine could be nominated for Secretary of Treasury? On August 5th, longtime observer of politics in the Garden State, Bob Ingle, a reporter for the Asbury Park Press, noted that Corzine, despite his earlier support for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries, has hosted a fund-raiser for Obama.
“It was no secret Corzine wanted to be Obama’s Treasury Secretary even when he was Governor,” said Ingle, who deemed it “sweet revenge” for the earlier appointment of Paulson.
Pollster Patrick Murray, a professor of political science at Monmouth (NJ) University, “thinks ego and pride are at work” wrote Ingle who quoted Murray saying, “This guy goes not want to end his political career being tagged as a failure.”
That’s not a reason to replace Geithner with Corzine. The nation has already suffered greatly from Obama’s ego and pride.
Putting aside his success at Goldman Sachs until he was pushed out, Corzine should be the last person to be put in charge of the nation’s Treasury Department at this critical time. He is too allied with labor, likes tax increases, and is liberal to the core.
Addendum, August 7
POLITICO Breaking News
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will stay at his post through the fall and the reelection campaign, a source close to the matter told POLITICO.
© Alan Caruba, 2011