Washington (CNN) - For a man who long championed free markets, the irony of being known as the architect of the greatest government intervention into markets in history sits just fine with former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
Paulson says he'd rather be the architect of the bailouts than the Treasury secretary who presided over the second Great Depression.
"The president in his state of the union address captured the mood of the country when he said Republicans hate these, Democrats hate these, I hate them, and just let me tell you I hated them," Paulson says. "But they were much better than the alternative and you know what they worked. Because we needed working with imperfect tools and authorities ... we were able to cobble together enough to prevent the system from collapsing and avoid disaster."
Paulson recounts the moments when Citigroup was failing and he was in Santa Barbara, walking through the Reagan Library - "that temple of free-market thinking" and was struck by the irony of the moment.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Forbes magazine President and CEO Steve Forbes called Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson “the worst treasury secretary we’ve had in modern times”, citing, among other things, the government’s handling of the housing crisis.
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Sunday, Forbes repeatedly called on the treasury secretary to be more straightforward about the money used to bail out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“Have Henry Paulson do at least one thing right, and that is, have the government explicitly guarantee the debt of Fannie and Freddie,” the financial mogul and former Republican presidential candidate said.
When asked if he has confidence in Paulson, Forbes responded “No, sadly, Wolf. He's about the worst treasury secretary we've had in modern times.”
The Treasury Department had no comment on Forbes’ remark, but in a speech on Thursday, Paulson said that the administration’s proactive response to the troubled economy “prevented a far worse financial crisis.”
Bill Clinton’s former labor secretary Robert Reich was slightly less blunt than Forbes, but equally uncertain on Paulson’s ability to turn around the economy.
“I think that the great bailout that he engineered was really sold to Congress on false pretenses,” Reich said on Late Edition. “Paulson has not been very transparent. He's been very opaque. And it has riled markets.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Spending a rare second day in a row in Washington, Barack Obama is speaking Tuesday with the country’s top two economic officials as well as a visiting prime minister, highlighting his emphasis on the economy and foreign relations that has dominated both presidential campaigns in recent weeks.
Tuesday morning he spoke with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson by phone, and later in the day he will meet with Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke. These talks come on the heels of Obama’s Monday roundtable with almost 20 economic advisors during which he said the country was in an “economic emergency.”
Since arriving back in the country following an eight-day overseas trip that garnered some criticism because of mounting economic issues at home, the Illinois senator has made assurances that his focus going forward to November’s election will be the struggling economy.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson assured CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Sunday morning that the stimulus tax rebate issued to millions of Americans this year is working.
“When you look at the consumer data we have for the second quarter; you look at retail sales, the stimulus package is working,” Paulson said. “And it's coming at a time when it's very much needed.”
But Paulson rejected the idea of a second stimulus package of $50 billion, which has been proposed by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other democrats.
“We put it together so it would be big enough to be meaningful to the economy today, and not so big that it was going to jeopardize our fiscal responsibilities and some of our longer-term priorities,” Paulson said.
He stressed that the focus needs to be on the stability of our capital markets, energy prices, and the housing market.