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Geithner rides a wave of criticism -

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Geithner rides a wave of criticism

John Shovelan reported this story on Friday, November 20, 2009 12:31:00

SHANE MCLEOD: To the United States and some Liberal members of the Democrat Caucus in the Congress
have joined with Republicans to seek the resignation of the US Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy
Geithner.

Mr Geithner today survived a nasty hearing of the Joint Economic Committee. A number of times he
was asked to quit and responded by telling Republicans they had left President Obama "an economy
falling off the cliff."

From Washington, John Shovelan reports on the growing wave of criticism aimed at the Treasury
Secretary.

JOHN SHOVELAN: With an economy in the tank, the unemployment rate at 10.2 per cent and according to
the OECD (Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation) heading for 10.9, Timothy
Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, is fending off calls for his resignation.

KEVIN BRADY: Conservatives agree that as point person you've failed. Liberals are growing in that
consensus as well. Poll after poll shows the public has lost confidence in this President's ability
to handle the economy. For the sake of our jobs, will you step down from your post?

JOHN SHOVELAN: Mr Geithner shot back that it was the Republicans who had bequeathed the Obama
administration an economy on the brink of depression.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER: You gave this President an economy falling off the cliff.

KEVIN BRADY: You have to take responsibility for your decisions.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER: I take responsibility for anything I am part of doing, I will be happy with that.
But I can't take responsibility is, is for the legacy of crises you've bequeathed this country.

KEVIN BRADY: This is your budget, this is your bailout, this is your stimulus, this is your act...

TIMOTHY GEITHNER: I take full responsibility for those...

CHAIRWOMAN: Gentleman time has expired.

JOHN SHOVELAN: But Texas Republican Michael Burgess had a different take. He said he didn't think
Mr Geithner should be fired.

MICHAEL BURGESS: I don't think that you should be fired. I thought you should never have been
hired.

JOHN SHOVELAN: There was no improvement in the jobs figures today. New jobless claims for the month
were 505,000 - the same as the previous month. After just over nine months in office the Obama
administration is being asked over and over where are the jobs?

Motivating in part the Republican hunt for Mr Geithner's head is this "jobless recovery". The
Republicans are targeting Mr Geithner because they think they can paint him as a big spending
friend of Wall Street, sympathetic to big bonuses and who has given Main Street no relief.

They have him in the crosshairs because he was an architect of the Wall Street bailout both as
secretary and in his previous job as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

KEVIN BRADY: What post were you holding when president Bush left office? Just remind me what
economic post you were holding?

TIMOTHY GEITHNER: I was the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

KEVIN BRADY: And are you shirking responsibility for the design of the bailout?

JOHN SHOVELAN: Making it tougher on Mr Geithner is the fact now that some left leaning Democrats
want him out too because of his ties to Wall Street.

Democrat representative Peter DeFazio says he thinks he should resign.

PETER DEFAZIO: We need a new economic team that cares about, more about jobs, Main Street and the
American people than it does about Wall Street and huge bonuses.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Mr DeFazio says he and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus were
considering their options to force him out. But there are no signs the White House is ready to
throw Mr Geithner under the bus.

There is already enough uncertainty in the US about the President's domestic agenda, including
changes to health care which will impact on small business and new regulations for the financial
system. Markets don't want a change of Treasury secretary, nor does the President, yet.

John Shovelan, Washington.