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No One Home At Treasury

Question: Who's the deputy secretary of the Treasury?

Answer: Trick question--no one! 

As ABC News reports today, Treasury Secretary Geithner has less than 20 percent of the politically appointed spots at Treasury filled, including his Number 2 spot. The article makes such vacancy rates seem outlandish, but historically they're not unusual at such an early stage in a new administration. Nor is it a real problem at the moment, as the policy-proposal and passage stages are handled more by the White House than the Treasury rank-and-file.

But as those proposals become laws, and then programs, Geithner is going to need a lot of reliable people to implement them. The lack of enough good people at TARP hobbled Neel Kashkari's efforts to open up credit markets last fall. All of which complicates the already-complicated recovery calculus: Not only does Obama need good plans, but he still needs good people--or even just warm bodies, at this point--to put them into action.

--Clay Risen