Geithner Plays Defense
In an interview with Chris Wallace at the Atlantic's "First Draft of History"
forum at the Newseum, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner discussed the financial crisis, the administrations rescue strategy and thecentral challenges to Americas economic health and recovery.
The strategy for dealing with the financial crisis, Geithner explained was "overwhelming force." Geithner described a war on two fronts: supporting consumer demand, through tax cuts and stimulus spending, and restoring the health of the banking system.
"The classic mistake countries make in a financial crisis is that they wait," Geithner said. "They do too little too late, and they leave people preparing for the possibility that the government is not going to fix it, and things will get worse."
According to Geithner,"The signature accomplishment of this president and the G-20 leaders in this period has been to come together early and agree on a common strategy and execute it," he said. "If you look basically at the arc of the last nine months we basically said this is what we're going to do and this is what its going to take and we did it and we executed it."
When asked to clarify the administration's policy on intervention in the private sector, Geithner claimed they had been careful to do as little as possible.
"Policy should never be to save people from their mistakes or institutions that manage themselves to end of collapse," Geithner responded.
He called the administration's actions "wars of necessity, not wars of choice," adding, "we've only done it where we saw no choice, and we'll be getting out as soon as possible."
While there have been some early signs of growth, Geithner admitted there is still a lot of uncertainty.
"We're nowhere close to where we can start to put on the breaks, wind this stuff down, declare victory, say it's over, and go on the next thing."
Watch Secretary Geithner on the president's signature accomplishment:
Watch full Geithner interview Part 1 and 2: