"Rahm wants it" has become an unofficial mantra among some at the Treasury, according to government officials.
WASHINGTON -- On Jan. 20, Timothy Geithner took control of the Treasury Department, directing the government's response to the financial crisis. Within three weeks, the White House tightened its grip, alarmed by the poor reaction to Mr. Geithner's performance during the rollout of his rescue plan, government officials say. Since then, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been so involved in the workings of the Treasury that "Rahm wants it" has become an unofficial mantra among some at the Treasury, according to government officials.
Mr. Geithner said White House involvement is critical to the success of the financial rescue, in part because the popular president can help sell the plan to the public. "I made a judgment...that to do this right, we had to have a fully integrated approach," Mr. Geithner said in an interview. "The president's capacity to lay out for the nation and the world a path through this crisis is as essential as everything we're going to do."
The former head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Mr. Geithner, 47 years old, is described as a smart tactician who reviews scenarios before making a decision. Where former Secretary Henry Paulson -- who ran something akin to an imperial Treasury -- would make decisions while marching down the hallway, Mr. Geithner is slower and more deliberative, say government officials.
Mr. Geithner is in daily contact with the White House, often with Mr. Emanuel. The new relationship is a switch from Mr. Paulson, who was working with a weakened White House, and partly reflects the severity of the U.S. economic crisis.
"On any major policy -- on finance at Treasury or national-security efforts -- the White House is going to play a major role," said David Axelrod, a White House senior adviser. "This is no different. We face in essence an economic emergency. It's an all-hands-on-deck situation." He said Mr. Geithner is held in high esteem.