November 24th, 2008
05:41 AM ET
14 years ago

Forbes: Paulson is 'worst' treasury secretary in modern times

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Steve Forbes says he doesn't have confidence in Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson."]

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.”

Filed under: Henry Paulson
soundoff (115 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    If you dropped an alien w/ an MBA somewhere in the US and gave him only the facts of this bailout, he would come to the conclusion that this was one of the greatest corporate scams to ever happen in the history of the world. How did we let this happen? How did we let Paulson essentially open up the coffers for his buddies with no oversight, no transparency...nothing? It is truly time the 'common' people rise up.

    November 24, 2008 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  2. scott

    wait a minute....are you trying to tell me that there is some aspect of the Bush Admin that is doing a less than fabulous job??
    of all the crazy things to suggest...

    ok....all kidding aside....Its simply amazing that things are AS good as they are....given the 8 years of misery and tragedy we have just witnessed...
    who even knew it was possible to achieve this level of devastation....
    a brand new human LOW in modern history...

    scott in NH

    November 24, 2008 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  3. Amber

    Paulson is one of the main people responsible for the banking meltdown. He should absolutely be investigated and ultimately be behind bars. He told everyone that Fannie and Freddie were fine and that no oversight was needed. He didn't want the audit (money) trail to lead to him and his cronies. Despicable! He's a fox in charge of the hen house. You watch, when the time is right he'll pick up residence in a foreign country somewhere. What a slime ball.

    November 24, 2008 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  4. Dawn

    well duh! it is less than two more months of him.....

    November 24, 2008 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  5. Robert

    Bad?? I think the guy is completely worthless. I would go as far is saying he is the "worst Treasury Secretary ever".

    November 24, 2008 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  6. That's an understatement

    Saying that Paulson is the worst Treasury Secretary in modern times is a woeful understatement. His decision to force Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy has caused numerous people, millions of people, around the world, their jobs, their life savings, their pensions. And it was not just forseeable but forseen and presented to Paulson in advance. So he knew. And the allegation that he is just stupid, though supported by his apelike manner and disjointed speaking style, can't be true, he ran Goldman Sachs, didn't he (The role of Goldman in causing this crisis will someday be told publicly, as was their role in causing the Great Depression, when Galbraith wrote his seminal work 20 years later). Anyway, we all await the Trial of Henry Paulson, he should pay for his crimes against humanity.

    November 24, 2008 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  7. Patrick, Odenville, Al.

    Henry Paulson cares for no one but himself, Bush and his buddies on Wall Street. His is a joke and a fraud. This idiot is giving billions of dollars to these banks and investment firms with no stipulations attached to it. This guy should be removed from his post asap. I seriously don't know how much more this country can take of the leadership of Bush and Paulson at this point. These two idiots but a whole new meaning to "Lame Ducks."

    November 24, 2008 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  8. Tom in Delaware

    Forbes also said that the resaon the Stock Market is crashing is because Obama's insists on raising taxes of the top 5%, will increase captial gains tax from 15% to 28%, and repeal the Bush tax cuts.

    People are getting out before January 20th before the government gets it all.

    That doesn't make the news though.

    Wouldn't be prudent.

    November 24, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Could he have waited to say this after Paulson is out? We still have a market that has confidence problems. Lets get those corrected among other things first, and then you can rip him a new one...

    November 24, 2008 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  10. KenB, MI

    The top heavy corporate attitude can also be viewed as the worst form of capitalist greed since the depression.

    November 24, 2008 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  11. Dave

    Is it still news that Bush appoints incompetent people?

    November 24, 2008 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  12. debchuck

    Surprise!! Paulson is a mirror of his boss, George Bush. Bush is without question on any front the worst president this country - probably even the world - has seen. We really should not expect much from Paulson since he has a penchant for following his role model.

    Look at Katrina as another example of Bush's stupidity. Hence, follows his minion in Homeland Security saying things are under control and help was on the way.

    Many more examples could be cited. As Bush goes, so goes the remainder of his appointees.

    We should not expect more from Paulson. Incompetence has its way of rising to the highest levels of heirarchy.

    November 24, 2008 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  13. bobby

    He is a former Hedge fund Manager. What do you expect? Even hedgefunds have taken a big beating this year. It is beyond his control. Blame it on Alan Greenspan. If he hhad not orchestrated Derivative trades and if SEC had not given a green signal, we would have not been in this situation. Our government is equally responsible for not keeping a check on this matter and WE the tax payers have to suffer for today's bad economy.

    November 24, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  14. RW

    He's probably right but could Forbes do any better?

    November 24, 2008 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  15. Bob NJ

    I so so agree this guy paulson is an idiot no wonder, Bush picked him , you don't have to be a brain surgeon to recognize incompetence , MY GOD

    November 24, 2008 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  16. RobK

    Right. He gives 100's of millions of dollars to firms like AIG, Citibank, Goldman Sachs etc., who don't do anything but shuffle money and paperwork around, without any plans, oversight, or regulation. But, zippo for the auto industry, who actually make products, and employ, either directly or indirectly, a couple million people. Brilliant! Let's let the auto companies go bankrupt, put those millions of people on unemployment, let the government pick up the retirement and medical costs of all the pensioners, and eliminate all the taxes that the auto companies pay. Wonder how much that will cost?

    November 24, 2008 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  17. carol

    I think that must be an understatement......but could we expect any more than incompetence with the way this administration has run the show for the past 8 years!!!
    Obama has got his hands full when he takes over next year, but he will do his level best to try and sort this mess out I'm sure.....what a way to have to start a Presidency???

    November 24, 2008 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  18. Abyssinian Lion

    The worst President in history had the worst Treasury Secretary in history. Go figure....

    November 24, 2008 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  19. Bob

    Paulson would be second worst to whoever Jimmy Carter's treasury secretary was. Obama's guy may claim the top spot. Our worst fears are being realized....TIME TO BUILD THE ARK!!!!

    November 24, 2008 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  20. New Yorker

    And every Congressman/woman who didn't listen to the warnings coming from certain individuals, like McCain, is one of the worst we've ever had. To try and blame Paulson for all the greedy and foolish maneuvers of the past 20 years is like blaming Bush for Katrina hitting the country. People believe this stuff and that's one reason why we're going down. I'd like to see Forbes elected to office and take the heat. Paulson turn around the econonmy? That will be Obama's job; just wait to see the mess we will be in then.

    November 24, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |

    Not only is he the worst- the job itself is unconstitutional, as is the FED.

    There were peacful protests in 39 cities across the country saturday, did anyone hear about it at CNN?

    They won't post the news- so why would they post this comment?

    November 24, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  22. New Yorker

    Bush appoint incompetent people? This started way before Bush. You just don't know what was going on during the Clinton years.

    November 24, 2008 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  23. tom

    i sure hope that after recounts and re votes we can get 60 in the senate so democrats dont need the hateful ignorant republicans for a single vote. then we can repair all the damage the republicans did to this country.

    November 24, 2008 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  24. lorraine

    Steve Forbes comments about Paulson were far too kind. Both Paulson and whomever appointed him and has allowed him to remain the U.S. Treasury secretary should all be fitted with orange jumpsuits. We should have known when Paulson was part of the first Goldman Sachs debacle that he was not the man for the job. I don't understand why speaker of the house Pelosi isn't calling for a grand jury investigation of Paulson and Bernacky. This whole thing stinks to high heaven and should not be allowed to continue under the new administration, let alone the current one. Throw the bums out!

    November 24, 2008 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  25. Bryan

    How did this happen....? Because back in 2004, Americans were so scared of Muslims and terrorism that no one stopped to think. Sure, Kerry was a less than perfect alternative to Bush but could he have been that much worse? This administration kept Americans scared and constantly peeping through the curtains looking for the terrorist that were coming to kill them all while they robbed the country blind. Many Americans bought into the fear-mongering instead of asking questions and finding out what the true deal was! It seems the tricks of the snake oil salesman still work because people are still dumb enough and fearful enough to believe them.

    November 24, 2008 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
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