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Geithner avoids commitment on taxes, laments deficit, points to growth, jobs as key

Speaking on America’s premier Sunday TV talk show, “Meet the Press”, treasury secretary Timothy Geithner agreed the federal government’s deficit had reached dangerous levels, but he pointed to economic growth and employment collectively as “job one” right now. Unemployment reached the 26-year high of 9.8% in September. The October report could come in at an eye-popping 10%. On air, Geithner declined to say whether taxes would have to go up, although he reiterated Barack Obama’s commitment not to add to the taxes of Americans earning less than $250,000 a year. But, in saying this, Geithner stressed, “Right now we’re focused on getting growth back on track. A lot of damage was caused by this crisis. It’s going to take some time for us to grow out of this. It could be a little choppy.” Geithner added he saw the recovery of the banking system as a relative bright spot.  While more than 100 American banks failed in 2009, given the overall improvement in business confidence large businesses are able to borrow again for expansion. But he reiterated that more needed to be done to help small businesses, and the Obama administration was focusing on opening up more credit to them in the future. “The big risk we face now is that banks are going to over-correct and not take enough risk. We need them to take a chance again on the American economy.” Not everyone agrees with Geithner’s half-full glass. Republican congressman John Boehner, a particular bête noire of the Obama administration, was critical of the stimulus programme, saying it had done nothing but grow the federal government. Boehner was appearing on the competing national TV discussion programme, “State of the Union,” on CNN. Read more: New York Times


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