Obama Explaining Geithner Plan to Save Banks Will Pay Off in Consumer Confidence

Obama is a great explainer, and that's precisely the role he should fill.

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By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Today's a big day at the Treasury Department, where Secretary Geithner will be unveiling the new Financial Stabilization Plan (or TARP Two, as it's also known). Last night the president held his first prime-time press conference from the East Room of the White House, and took his case for the administration's stimulus plan to the American people. When it came time to answer a reporter's query about the Financial Stabilization Plan, however, the president ducked the question and said he didn't want to steal the spotlight from the Secretary's announcement today.

It's too bad he didn't answer the question, because it was a great opportunity to explain to viewers the fundamentals of what happened in the banking industry and why this plan is better than TARP One. He gave long and detailed—and understandable—explanations on other issues. Why not this one? One thing about President Obama: he speaks with clarity, and people love it.

I'm no financial wizard, and I don't think I'm the only one who thinks the financial coverage of this crisis has been confusing, contradictory, breathless and even scary. Isn't that the problem—that someone needs to explain to the American people why this bank bailout will work without using economic jargon that only hedge fund managers understand?

It seems to me that there are two keys to ending this crisis: stabilizing the banks in order to get credit flowing again, and rebuilding consumer confidence. Explaining the plan to stabilize the banks and getting people behind it will pay off in consumer confidence.

On a lighter note, and as a public service to similarly challenged readers, I pass this along: Amid the mountain of economic commentary this morning, here is the Daily Beast's new Valentine's Day poll showing that the financial crisis is having a terrible effect on Americans love lives. Apparently when President Obama said last night "the party was over," he wasn't just talking about consumer spending.

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