Transcript: Diane Sawyer Interviews Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

SAWYER:
Do you agree with what Elizabeth Warren of the Congressional Oversight Panel said, namely, that public fear has turned to anger. That the public feels that it was stuck with the bill, but didn't get the benefits.

GEITHNER:
Yeah -- yeah, absolutely. I think that she's absolutely right about the level of frustration and fear. But again, that's the tragic thing about financial crises is that you -- they cause so much damage that you have to do extraordinary things to arrest the panic, fix the problem, pull the economy back from abyss. And you can say today, for the first time in not just -- six, eight, 12, 18 months. You can say that this economy is now growing again, which is the beginning. It's just the beginning. Unemployment is still extraordinarily high. There's still a huge amount of uncertainty and concern about the future. But we're starting to make some progress.

SAWYER:
When Larry Summers of the Council of Economic Advisors says that we're going to have unacceptable unemployment for years. How high is it going to go?

GEITHNER:
Most economists -- I'm not -- this is not a forecast. But I think most private economists think unemployment's going to peak close to where it currently is, maybe slightly higher. And -- and I think the reason why this is -- this is -- we're in this position is because again --

SAWYER:
To where?

GEITHNER:
Economists, Diane, aren't very good about forecasting the future. If we learned one thing in this crisis, it was that. They don't know so much about the future. But the reason why we're going to be in a position where unemployment is so high and could stay high for a long time is because, again, it's going to take us a while as a country to dig out of a long period where we were borrowing too much. We allowed too much risk and levers to build up. That's why it's going to be -- relatively -- it could be a relatively slow recovery. But that's why it's so important that we get the rest of the world to move with us to get growth back on track.

SAWYER:
There is a movement afoot, either to have a new stimulus or a retooled stimulus that only targets jobs. Is it going to happen?

GEITHNER:
Well, again, we're -- we're looking at a range of things to help reinforce this initial progress we've seen to get growth back on track. And the president is -- as he said, you know, we're not going to be done until we have every American who wants to find a job can find a job. And we have unemployment back to it's level that -- that you can reasonably expect (UNINTEL) economy.

SAWYER:
But how quickly -- how quickly can you assure people out there what we have two million people -- we have -- we have 15 million people looking for two million jobs, available jobs.

GEITHNER:
What we can say is that we will do everything sensible, everything we think is effective, to help get growth back on track. Help bring unemployment down.

SAWYER:
Number one among them?

GEITHNER:
And we're going to -- and we're going to stick with it until we achieve this. And that's why there's such a powerful program of stimulus in place now. And why we've been so aggressive in helping fix this financial system.

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