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Truth was for sale, too, in Obama's White House

| Saturday, May 17, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presided over the politically conceived, patently unconstitutional and anti-free market taxpayer bailouts of banks, automakers and insurance companies in the latter part of the administration of former President George W. Bush, when he was the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and during the first term of President Obama, when he was the secretary of the Treasury.

In those years — and still today — he has argued that aggressive government intervention leads to a stronger financial system because the government will take risks with taxpayer money that the taxpayers themselves will not take with it. He believes in the use of government coercion rather than the voluntary choices of consumers and investors.

Those of us who embrace the free market do so not only because it has produced more broad-based prosperity than any government has but because it offers the only moral system of financial exchanges for goods and services. That's because in a truly free market, every exchange is voluntary. Coercing money from taxpayers to pay for the failures of businesses is theft.

Now comes word, in the form of a new book from Geithner, that in 2009, shortly before his first round of interviews as Treasury secretary on the Sunday morning TV shows, Geithner endured a prep session administered to him by Dan Pfeiffer, then the senior adviser to Obama.

Pfeiffer instructed Geithner to suggest to the American public that Social Security is operating in the black and thus is not a contributing cause of the ballooning federal deficit. He stated that the president needed that message to go out to his base as a “dog whistle to the left” — meaning a signal to the president's political base, the truth be damned.

Did Pfeiffer ask Geithner to lie? The secretary apparently thought so, even though the government's fuzzy math can make red ink look black. Whatever the truth, Geithner's version is that he and Pfeiffer believed the ink was red and when Pfeiffer asked him to deceive the public by claiming it was black, he declined.

This requested deception is telling. This is not spin. Spin is the artful use of words so the speaker needn't lie. Geithner believes he was being asked to tell a lie. Can the government morally remain silent to preserve human freedom? Of course it can. Can it deceive by lying to the public on a material matter? If it does, it will shatter the social contract it has with the people, and the officials who lie risk becoming a law unto themselves, because after they are caught, no one will believe them.

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel.

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