Geithner on stimulus, U.S. debt surge and business-bashing


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Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner today sought to downplay the idea of a second economic stimulus plan, saying the need for another program is a decision the administration ‘can’t really make’ now.

In an interview on CNN’s ‘Fareed Zakaria GPS,’ Geithner also was asked about reining in federal borrowing, whether tax increases would be needed and whether the administration should curb what critics say is its anti-business rhetoric.



--- On whether a second stimulus plan is needed:

‘I think all economists believe, and this was inherent in the design of the program, that the biggest thrust or force would start to take effect in the second half of this year. And we’re going to start to see that happen. But I don’t think that’s a judgment we need to make now, can’t really make it now prudently, responsibly.’

--- On ballooning federal borrowing:

‘It is very important both for the sustainability of recovery, for confidence, that the world understands, American people understand that this government will do what’s necessary to bring these deficits down to a sustainable level as soon as we’re confident we have a sustained recovery in place. ‘The president is absolutely committed [to] that. He deeply understands how important that is. His team . . . lived through a period where a remarkable period of fiscal discipline and response in the United States helped generate a long period of rising private investment, strong . . . growth, stronger dollar, lower interest rates, broad-based improvement in income standards. And so he understands deeply the importance of making sure we put in place a stronger foundation for recovery as a whole. And part of that will be our return to living within our means as a country.’

--- But when asked whether ‘living within our means’ will mean higher taxes to pare borrowing needs, Geithner gave a classic Washington non-answer:

‘As a country, and there’s no mystery in this, we’re going to have to bring our resources and our commitments closer into balance. That is a necessary thing for us to do. And it’s going to be a hard thing for us to do. But it’s perfectly within our capacity as a country to do.’

--- On whether the administration is beating up on business:

‘If you listen to what the president says on this and of course I say this all the time, we, of course, deeply understand that the future of America -- the future strength of our economy -- depends on quality of innovation by business in the United States. On the judgments they make and their willingness to take risk again and put money at stake and building companies that are going to grow. ‘There is no path on the road to the American economy that doesn’t come with that. And of course the president deeply understands that.’

-- Tom Petruno