Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner said Wednesday that the US economy is still in the “early stage” of a crisis and called on Congress to take steps to spur growth.
Speaking to CNBC host Jim Cramer, Geithner acknowledged that if Congress doesn’t act then the nation faces a “deeper, steeper contraction in fiscal support than is prudent for an economy at this early stage of the crisis given the shocks we face.”
Here is the complete exchange, first reported by RealClearPolitics:
Jim Cramer, CNBC host:
"Now let's talk about the fact that you said the economy is weak. You put out a jobs plan. The New York Times today basically gives its obituary. 'Tax plan for jobs bill.' Familiar ring. Meaning the GOP will not back this. Is this dead on arrival?"
Tim Geithner, U.S. Secretary of Treasury:
"Absolutely not. I think that there's no reason now for the Congress of the United States not to act to help strengthen growth in the near term. It's the conservative, prudent, responsible thing to do. You can think of it as protection against Europe."
"You can think of it as insurance against weaker growth going forward. And you got to think about the alternatives. If Congress or Washington is incapable of acting, then policy will be damaging to growth because what you'll have is a deeper, steeper contraction in fiscal support than is prudent for an economy at this early stage of the crisis given the shocks we face. You know, life is about choices. Life is about alternatives."
Mr. Geithner said we have "some ways to go" to heal the country from the crisis that we are in.
"You have to keep at it. You say that we are going to continue to do whatever we think will help get more people back to work, make the economy strong in the short term. Until we get definitively through this. And our basic strategy is to make sure we are healing the damage caused by this crisis and we have some ways to go as you know despite the improvement of the financial sector. And we want to make sure at the same time we're making this a better place to invest, make exports stronger and strengthen our long-term fundamentals," Geithner said.
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