U.S. Treasury (search) Secretary John Snow (search) said on Friday that over-sized government deficits (search) were a potential threat to the economy but said the Bush administration was committed to cutting them.

Responding to questions from a small group of businessmen at a printing plant in Tampa, Snow said that Washington recognized the risk from excessive deficits but said: "We in the administration are committed to bringing the deficit down, and we will."

Snow added: "If it isn't dealt with, there's a real price to be paid in terms of ... confidence in the government."

In a wide-ranging question and answer period with the small business owners, Snow heard worries that rising prices for energy and for steel might crimp the generally favorable business outlook.

Snow offered reassurances about prices but said it was true that the United States needed to boost its domestic production.

"We would expect some continuing moderation in the energy market," Snow said. "But it's clear the United States has to be less dependent on supplies from abroad."

Snow is headed for Alaska next week, where he is expected to repeat his calls for Congress to approve proposals that would permit more drilling for oil on protected lands in Alaska.

In response to questions about job prospects, Snow said that he considered private-sector forecasts for 200,000 to 300,000 more jobs monthly to be reasonable.

"Given the strength of the economy, those numbers look reasonable," the U.S. Treasury chief said.