November 20, 2009 / 7:19 PM / 10 years ago

Nearly half of Americans rate Geithner performance "poor"

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner listens to a statement by the chairman of the Joint Economic committee prior to testifying to the hearing on "Financial Regulatory Reform: Protecting Taxpayers and the Economy" on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 19, 2009. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Adding to lawmaker criticism of U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s performance is a new survey released on Friday showing 42 percent of Americans say he has done a “poor job” handling the credit crisis and federal bailout programs.

The survey by Rasmussen Reports, a polling and electronic publishing firm, found that 20 percent rated Geithner’s performance in these areas as “good” or “excellent”, while 16 percent were not sure how he was performing. Twenty-two percent rated his performance as “fair”.

Rasmussen said these findings were largely unchanged from a survey done in March just after the passage of the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus plan and disclosure that American International Group would pay out $165 million in bonuses despite a massive government bailout.

Investors polled has stronger opinions: 47 percent said Geithner was doing a poor job , while 24 percent said his handling of crisis was good or excellent.

The survey of 1,000 adults on November 18 and 19 was conducted as some liberal Democrats and Republicans called for Geithner to resign. On Wednesday night, Rep. Peter DeFazio, an independent-minded Democrat from Oregon, told MSNBC television on Wednesday Geithner should not be in his job because he is too focused on Wall Street and not enough on “main street” Americans.

Rep. Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, seized on this at a Joint Economic Committee hearing on Thursday and asked Geithner, “For the sake of our jobs, will you step down from your post?”

Geithner responded by defending actions he and others in the Obama administration took to restore financial calm and economic growth, saying he improved rescue programs launched by the Bush administration.

The White House also rose to Geithner’s defense, with a spokeswoman saying he has “helped steer the American economy back from the brink.”

Asked about their general opinion of Geithner, 41 percent said they weren’t sure, compared to 31 percent in the March survey. The survey, which has a plus or minus 3 percentage points margin of sampling error, showed that 42 percent had a poor opinion, 22 percent fair; 14 percent good and 16 percent excellent.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Andrew Hay

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