One-on-One With Obama’s Money Man

In an exclusive interview with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Editor-in-Chief Derek T. Dingle reality checks the White House's plan to save our economy

spend their taxpayer resources much more wisely. If we do that we can afford to make those targeted investments. They have huge returns to the American economy in terms of higher growth rates, more opportunities for Americans, more income growth for Americans.

The president has had major battles with Congress
over budget priorities and deficit reduction.

It’s not complicated to figure out how you reduce the deficit. What’s complicated is figuring out how to do that in way that’s going to be good for the economy, not kill future investment, growth prospects, and in a way that’s going to be fair to working families [and] middle-class Americans. And that’s a debate where there are big differences between the president’s views and [those] of people in Congress, some on both sides of the aisle, but particularly Republicans. We have to figure out a way to resolve those differences. The president said, ‘Nothing is going to pass Congress unless Democrats and Republicans agree.’ So we have to figure out a way to get people on both sides of the aisle who want to solve problems to come together.

Why does the corporate sector still lack
confidence when it comes to hiring?

The economy went through the worst crisis we had seen since the Great Depression. It was a shattering blow to the basic confidence of Americans and American business. It’s going to take some time for people to be more confident that it is definitively behind them and make them believe that they can take a risk again on the strength of the American economy, but that’s happening now. If you look at how businesses are spending their resources now, private investment grew at a roughly 10% annual rate last year, much more rapid growth than the overall economy as a whole. So you’re seeing businesses start to put their money to work again, start to take a risk again, and in doing that they’ve added back 1 million jobs in the last 12 months. I think you’re going to see the pace of job creation now start to accelerate as growth gets stronger.

How do you encourage more lending to small businesses?
The president put in place a sweeping, very creative, comprehensive set of measures and a bunch of tax incentives for small businesses. You’re starting to see for the first time the rate of growth of lending by banks to small businesses starting to strengthen. If you talk to banks across the country, they’re saying they’re starting to see more demand from small businesses for lending, which is good. That’s a sign that they think there’s going to be more demand for their products. We have a program in place that gives states substantial resources to put more ammunition into their lending programs for small businesses.

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