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. We love Sarah


    Too long has members of our government and private sectors been allowed to do whatever they want without worry of consequences. Hold them accountable like every other citizen. There is no such thing as white collar crime. It’s all crime. If we can send a young person (or any person) to prison for possessing drugs who cause no harm to anyone else, but let these dogs and thieves who destroy the lives of thousands (if not millions), then why should our children listen to us?

    November 24, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  2. John Brock, New York

    I and anyone that has left a comment on this article, in all probability is unqualified to properly judge how any person in the position of secretary of the treasury manages the position, especially in financial times such as these. So please do readers a favor, and focus on solutions instead of bashing. Everyone knows how poor of a leader Bush is. Get over it. It's time the country stops acting like an abused ex-spouse, constantly living life vicariously through the very person that made one miserable.

    November 24, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  3. RobK

    Obama's plan isn't any better: "Let's give everyone government jobs! The government can always print more money or we can just get the money from the rich." Brilliant!

    November 24, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  4. TexasGoat

    Welfare for the well-heeled.

    Could Republican's be any more hypocritical – always whining about socialism on one hand, yet begging for Government money on the other?

    Welcome to the Fascist States of America.

    November 24, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  5. happy thanksgiving

    the very people who were supose to be helping the american people are the ones that have led us to the slauter. maybe we'll be strong and prosperous again, but people like paulson have all but destroyed us.

    November 24, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  6. PA Independent

    For those of you who haven't heard, the campaign is over. Hoping and praying for our nation to fail is as unpatriotic, stupid and self-centered as you can get, wihch is exactly what some are doing by their ulrapartisan sniping and praying Obama fails. The guy hasn't even taken office yet, how about waiting to see what he does when he actually has the power to do something?

    Yes, I agree Paulson has been horrible in Treasury. Bush has had a tendency to reward people as mediocre as himself, so it is no surprise. Perhaps he finds intelligence and competence to be too much competition? No matter, he's already clocked out and will be officially gone soon. I only hope he doesn't burn the whole country down on his way out the door.

    November 24, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  7. Melissa

    Birds of a feather.... almost the whole current administration is incompetent.

    November 24, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  8. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    George Bush, in his infinite "gut" wisdom, has for eight years appointed and rewarded those of astonishing incompetence eclipsed only by his own......Brown, Rumsfeld.....Paulson is just one more bird of a feather.

    November 24, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  9. Stacy from Loudoun County VA

    Paulson stimulated false fear into the American political system, then forced Congress to essentially hand over money with no oversight which he used to line the pockets of his Wall Street buddies before the clock ran out on the Bush Administration. What he couldn't give away, he punted to Obama. This clown is at best clueless and at worst diabolical.

    November 24, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  10. Andy

    What would you expect from the WORST PRESIDENT EVER? What cracks me up is Bush weaseled his way into office not once but twice. Don't look at me I didn't vote for him.

    November 24, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  11. al ft lauderdale florida

    What did you expect- this whole "bail out" is nothing short of robbing and shifting of the treasury to enrich the greedy. Bush and his team have been waiting for the right moment to do it. What we have had in power for the past eight years is the MAFIA. I find it hard to believe that no one has been held accountable or ANY arrests have been made. I guess the the law only applies to the average taxpayer- we are the ones to get arrested for petty crimes or paying a penalty for speedind and lighter offences. Welcome to AMERICA.

    November 24, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  12. CC

    Again, Congress cries that someone sold them an idea under false pretenses......I say this Congress is the worst in history....let us fire all of them. Whenever anything goes wrong, Barney and the other incompetents in Congress say someone lied to them. It's time for them to take responsibility and know what is going on. They are all so busy running for re-election that they do not do the people's work. Term Limits, Please.

    November 24, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  13. Ken in Dallas

    The ridiculous thing about this exchange is that Forbes and Paulson are both trying to live out the same laissez-faire magic-market fantasy as got us into this mess in the first place. Make no mistake, this is another vivid example of Republicans eating their own.

    The truth is that neither one of these clowns understands markets. They ignore the fact that there's an essential tension in the market system, that "free markets" are always an ideal and never an actuality. If you don't regulate the operation of markets, especially in regard to anti-trust actions, economies of scale will tempt market players to consolidate, until a small number of players controls the market. Either you compromise market freedom a little by regulation, or you end up with a private player, accountable to no one, in control of the market.

    Consolidation is also a trade-off. It enables players to gain strength and efficiency, but it also consolidates risk, and raises the prospect of individual players growing so essential to the market's operation that they are de facto public trusts, companies like AIG, Lehman, and Citi that can take the whole economy with them if they fail. When we allow such de facto public trusts to exist without being recognized, we fact the worst of all possible outcomes: corporations enabled to hold the government hostage

    It's too late to rail about the unfairness of it all, the mistakes have already been made, the blind eye already turned. There's nothing left to do but put in the hard work it will take to fix this. We might at least hold our leaders responsible for learning from this fiasco, though.

    November 24, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  14. GOP Lost

    Wait till they find out that the US taxpayer will need trillions to fix the economy that all these wizards failed to regulate and wall street was able to take billions of dollars from the investors. Can't even play these kind of money games in Las Vegas,

    November 24, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  15. SO SAD

    I don't trust anyone who has worked under George Bush PERIOD! What a puppet he turned out to be.

    November 24, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  16. JuleS

    Thank God someone said it out loud. Between him and the Shrub it will be a plesant surprise if this country survives until January 20, 2009, a day that will be noted in history as the End of an Error.

    November 24, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  17. Over it

    I agree the Paulson is bad, but what about Congress? They didn't require anything of him.

    It's ultimatly their responsibility what is done with our tax money. Quit bashing Bush...what about Reid and Peolsi who did not require any plan from Paulson and will still be there after January 20th??

    Are you still gonna blame Bush for it???

    November 24, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  18. Jack

    What does one expect from the Village Idiot???? Birds of a feather flock together. One surrounds themselves with what one knows......nothing!

    A truly intelligent person surrounds themselves with those smarter than they are...........

    Please, can Barack start early!!???

    November 24, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  19. Pat in Atlanta

    Much of the financial mess has come from financial executives misleading others until no one has faith in anything. Unfortunately, the ever shifting bailout looks like more lies and misrepresentations

    The total failure of leadership from the administration is frightening. Lame duck yes, but it doesn't have to be this lame.

    Secretary Paulson makes a fine target for our frustrations, but he does have a boss, somewhere. Has anyone seen George W. Bush around?

    November 24, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  20. AdamW

    This is the worst government in history. Why should the citizens have to bail out Citi-Group and these other failed industries. How about their rich ceos pick up the slack with their millions? I barely make 20k a year and my taxes go to these shmucks? No thank you. Tell the IRS and their cronies to get their hands out of my pockets!!!!!! Paulson should have to fork up all of his riches. I am sick of this country and its stupidity.

    November 24, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  21. Mickie

    No kidding! This is true of all the Bush/Cheney appointments!

    November 24, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  22. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    Paulson is about all anyone could expect from the worst presidential administration in US history!

    November 24, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  23. former gop

    57 days, people. Just hold on to your life raft for 57 more days.

    November 24, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  24. Cody

    I wish you all would stop complaining about bush. Apparently he was good enough too be elected twice. and if you look back congress went democratic 2006 when the economy went haywire.

    November 24, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  25. Minnesotan

    More incompetence from the Bush Administration. But after all of their failures, do we expect any less? I sincerely hope that they are all subpoena-ed and lawsuited into jail or poverty once they're out of office.

    November 24, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
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