Live Blogging Hank Paulson on CNBC

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The main man at Treasury is scheduled to speak to b-schoolers at Columbia today but before that happens, he’s stopping by the New York Stock Exchange where he’ll chat with Maria Bartiromo. While we sit around nursing our hangovers from last night’s Sarbanes-Oxley birthday party, slowly pouring hot coffee on our forearm to scald away the pain, we’ll live blog his words.
Oh. And we’re going to do it hair of the dog drinking game style. Do one shot of bourbon each time Hank mentions China and three shots if he mentions the environment.
10:06. Hank looks so relaxed. Hands folded on his lap, leaning back in his chair. Polka dot tie. OMG! It's the tie he's wearing in the official DealBreaker graphic. It's totally a message to us. Hank (Hearts) DealBreaker.
10:07. Maria wants to know what his priorities are. He’s got four: entitlement reform, energy security, strengthening and supporting trade policy and wage growth and income distribution. Phew. No China, no tree-hugging.
10:08. Oh. Wait. He’s not done. There are international priorities too. China. He means China. He’s totally going to make us do this shot.
10:09. And yes. He’s said it. Only took two minutes. Bourbon goes down in one. Chase it with black coffee. This game was a terrible idea.
[More after the jump.]


10:10. No dice. Maria isn’t letting him control the interview by going to China right away. She wants domestic policies and throws him the deficit question. Hank says fiscal deficit is 2.3%--roughly equal to global average. He says this deficit is manageable. The biggest concern is structural deficit from entitlement programs.
10:11. Uh-oh. Hank seems to be getting a bit shaken up. He stutters a bit. Makes you wonder what Maria is doing off camera. Is she winking at him. Flashing her gams? Will he start talking about trees and birds if he loses his line? Ugh. We’re smoking our second cigarette and it’s not even quarter past ten.
10:12. No tree-hugging. He recovers by talking about Iraq. CNBC goes split screen to show soldiers fighting, shooting rockets. Planes streak through cloudless skies. Obviously CNBC thinks we might have forgotten there was a war going on over there.
10:13. Maria goes for the tax-hike question. Hank says he cannot imagine wanting to increase taxes at this point.
10:14. Now she’ll let him talk about China. Hank is being tough. Tough on us—this is our second shot of bourbon in the last five minutes—and tough on China. “The Chinese need to show more flexibility with regard to their currency,” he says. CNBC goes split screen again. What is this? Oh, it’s China. Beijing? Hong Kong? Who knows. There are Chinese people walking around. Thanks. Otherwise we might have thought he was talking about plates and tea cups when he says China.
10:16. Maria tries to trap Hank: “How helpful has the weak dollar been to trade around the world?” Hank dodges the trap. He says the problem with world trade is growing protectionist sentiment.
10:17. She’s like a little bulldog dressed in watermelon. She presses further on the weak dollar. Hank backs off from his initial dodge and announces being in favor of a strong dollar.
10:18. Maria asks The Question: “Why did you take the job?” He says he loved his job at Goldman Sachs but he didn’t want to look back a few years from now and know he gave hup the chance to make a difference. Did he turn down the job the first time it was offered? Hank admits it took him a while to come to the conclusion he would take the job. That’s a yes!
10:19. Hank and Ben Bernanke have breakfast together once a week. Note from DealBreaker’s assignment desk: someone find out where they eat! What they eat! What time?
The Score: lots of entitlement talk, free-trade wins, only two rhetorical retreats to China and no tree-hugging. Everyone wins!

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