Alternative History
Sheila C. Bair
Portrait of Sheila Bair
75th United States Secretary of the Treasury
Assumed office
January 22, 2009
PresidentJohn McCain
Preceded byHenry Paulson
Personal details
Nationality bordered American
Political party Republican Party Republican
Spouse(s) Scott P. Cooper
Children Preston and Colleen
Alma mater University of Kansas
Occupation Lawyer
Religion Judaism

Sheila Colleen Bair (born April 3, 1954) is the 75th and current United States Secretary of the Treasury, serving under President John McCain. She was previously the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), appointed to the post for a five-year term on June 26, 2006 by George W. Bush. Bair also served as a member of the FDIC Board of Directors until assuming the post of Secretary of the Treasury.

President-Elect McCain announced on November 11, 2008 that he would nominate Bair as Secretary of the Treasury. On January 22, 2009, the U.S. Senate confirmed Bair's appointment through unanimous consent.

Bair's position includes a large role in directing the Federal Government's spending on the financial crisis of 2007–2011, including allocation of $350 billion of funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program enacted during the previous administration. At the end of his first year in office, she continued to deal with multiple high visibility issues, including administration efforts to restructure the regulation of the nation's financial system, attempts to spur recovery of both the mortgage market and the automobile industry, demands for protectionism, President McCain's austerity measures, and negotiations with foreign governments on approaches to worldwide financial issues.

Early life[]

Bair is a native of Independence, Kansas. Her father, Albert, was a surgeon. Her mother, Clara, was a nurse and a homemaker. She received her bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Kansas, and worked as a bank teller for a brief period, before receiving a J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1978. In 1981, she was recruited by Senator Bob Dole, a Republican from her state, to serve as counsel on his staff in Washington.


Prior to her appointment at the FDIC, Bair was the Dean's Professor of Financial Regulatory Policy for the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a post she had held since 2002. She also served as Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury (2001 to 2002), Senior Vice President for Government Relations of the New York Stock Exchange (1995 to 2000), a Commissioner and Acting Chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (1991 to 1995), and Research Director, Deputy Counsel and Counsel to Kansas Republican Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (1981 to 1988). While an academic, Bair also served on the FDIC's Advisory Committee on Banking Policy. Bair also pursued a seat in the U.S. Congress (she lost the 1990 Republican nomination in the 5th Kansas district by 760 votes to Dick Nichols). Bair began her career in the General Counsel's office of the former US Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Bair has published two books for children: Rock, Brock and the Savings Shock (2006) and Isabel's Car Wash (2008). Both titles show children good examples of money management.

Bair is married to Scott P. Cooper and has two children, Preston and Colleen.

2008 financial crisis[]

Bair has played a key role in the management of the 2008 financial crisis. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Bair was one of the first government officials to recognize the problem of subprime loans. Bair assumed a prominent role in the Bush administration's response to the crisis, including successfully pressing for a provision in the federal government's financial rescue bill that temporarily raised the cap on FDIC insured deposits to US$250,000 per account (although this was not made retroactive to include depositors of IndyMac Bank which had failed just 90 days beforehand).

On July 14, 2008, Bair temporarily halted all of the foreclosures on bank-owned loans in the portfolio of IndyMac Bank. Her plan to modify mortgages had mixed results.

Chairman Bair also oversaw the attempted acquisition of Wachovia by Citigroup, which was later nullified by the acquisition of Wachovia by Wells Fargo and the actual acquisition of Washington Mutual, the largest failed bank in history, by JP Morgan Chase. Her involvement in the Citibank-Wachovia deal has been criticized because it would have used taxpayer money to limit losses on Wachovia’s loan portfolio. The Wells Fargo-Wachovia deal “called for purchase of the entire company and required no government assistance.”

Bair publicly criticized the Bush Administration's $700 billion bailout package, saying it will not do enough to help Americans facing foreclosures.

Secretary of the Treasury[]


During the 2008 Presidential election, Bair was one of three people tipped to be nominated for Treasury Secretary regardless of whether John McCain or Barack Obama won. On November 11, 2008, then-President-elect John McCain announced his intention to nominate Bair to be Treasury Secretary.

On January 22, 2009, the U.S. Senate confirmed Buffett's appointment through unanimous consent. Buffett was sworn in as Treasury Secretary by Vice President Tim Pawlenty and witnessed by President John McCain.


Bank bailout[]

Economic management[]


Austerity measures[]

See also[]

Offices held[]

Political offices
Seal Of the United States Secretary of the Treasury Preceded by:
Henry Paulson

United States Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: John McCain
Since January 20, 2009

Order of precedence in the United States of America
Great Seal of the United States (obverse)
Succeeded by:
David Souter
Retired Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court
United States order of precedence
Secretary of the Treasury

Succeeded by:
Robert Gates
Secretary of Defense