More self-dealing for Treasury afoot?

Last week, the Boston Globe released a story by a staff reporter named Bryan Bender that suggests that some Beltway politicos may be contemplating changing the mission of the Secret Service.

The Secret Service is entrusted with protecting our nation’s currency from counterfeiting and is also entrusted with guarding our nation’s president.  The Secret Service was created during the 1860’s to battle counterfeiting, and its mission was expanded to presidential protection in the wake of President McKinley’s assassination at the start of the 20th century.  When the Department of Homeland Security was created, the Secret Service was placed within that department.

The question at hand:  Does the Secret Service have the resources to handle these twin missions when far more safety threats to the President are being identified and when counterfeiting is so much more technologically advanced?

I’m not even sure it’s an honest question.

How are we to know the scope of resources at the Secret Service’s disposal?  How are we to know if there truly are more threats against the President’s safety?  How are we to assess the sophistication and proliferation of present-day counterfeiting schemes?

The answers to these three questions being unknowable to the public can enable alarmists to inflate the risks and to downplay the available resources with the intent of framing an ensuing debate that may be based solely on conjecture.  What fact-checking tools are available to the public to quantify and qualify the risks vis-a-vis the resources?

It’s with that skeptical eye toward the original question that I peruse the rest of Bender’s report.

What if the Secret Service were given one mission instead of two?  Would it make sense that the Secret Service be divested of the anti-counterfeiting role that it’s held since its founding?  If so, should that responsibility be handed over to the Treasury Department?

Let me ask that last question another way:  Should the Secret Service’s powers to investigate specified types of financial crimes be handed off to . . . Tim Geithner???????????

I can answer that last question:  NO WAY!

Last year, when Hank Paulson was Treasury Secretary, I blogged against the power that would be granted to Treasury Secretaries by the bailout bill (which, sadly, was passed into law):

The fundamental crux of the matter is that this bill gives Hank Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury, friend to the Wall Street crooks and enemy of the taxpayer, $250 billion of taxpayer money right up front, and perhaps $700 billion over all (and maybe more, since the precedent has already been set) to bailout whoever he pleases, with no judicial review.  He already acted on behalf of Bear Stearns without getting permission from the American people.  He already acted on behalf of AIG without getting permission from the American people.  He was able to coax Congress into going along with a bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  He’s been a crybaby that threw a tantrum to get this latest bailout approved, but it didn’t work.  Now he’s handing out candy to get this bailout approved.  Paulson and his Wall Street cronies have been more manipulative than any spoiled rotten brat I know.  Has it occurred to anyone on Capitol Hill and in the MSM that Paulson has been wrong with every move he makes?  Has it occurred to anyone that on Capitol Hill and in the MSM that Paulson has quietly assured his Wall Street cronies that the fix is in, and that he guaranteed to them that he’ll deliver the goods?  If we want accountability and oversight, it has to start with denying any of this bailout money.  It has to start with not granting additional power to the Secretary of the Treasury.

My dim view of Paulson is coupled with my dim view of Geithner, Paulson’s successor.  I distrust them both.

With a further consolidation of power over all financial aspects of our nation, what mechanisms are at the people’s disposal to check and balance any abuses that might occur at the Treasury Department?

I doubt that it would ever become necessary to trim the Secret Service’s twin missions down to one, but if it ever came down to it, I’d be much more comfortable with the Department of Homeland Security retaining the role of investigating the types of financial crimes that the Secret Service currently has jurisdiction over, and letting the Treasury Department guard our President, than doing it the other way around.

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