Transcript: Diane Sawyer Interviews Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

SAWYER:
One question about foreclosures and mortgages. This is just a small example which contains a greater truth in it, as people experience it. Bank of America, which has the no -- most number of -- mortgages -- that could potentially be modified, has only helped seven percent. And again, taxpayers gave them what? $45 billion. And after all this time, they've only helped seven percent?

GEITHNER:
You're -- you're exactly right. And some -- some banks have been relatively slow to get this going. And they're going to have to substantially step up their efforts, because we want this program to reach people who are eligible for the benefits of the program. But we -- we expect to see half a million families in -- with mortgages have -- allow for substantially lower monthly payments. In place by November 1st. And we're going to see, I think, much st -- much more rapid progress by those institutions who are a little slow and late. And it's very important we see that.

SAWYER:
Do you think government has been at all responsible for the fact that they didn't -- they didn't feel an urgent need to move more quickly?

GEITHNER:
Oh, of course. And that's why -- that's why the president put in place the program he did at the -- at the beginning of this year. I mean, the president moved very early to do extraordinary things to bring down mortgage interest rates so that people across the country are able to borrow at lower rates than would have been possible. You're seeing the housing market now start to show signs of stability, because of the effect of that program.

And as I said, about half a million families by November 1st, perhaps earlier than that, are going to be in -- in modified mortgages, allow them to stay in their homes, and pay much less on their mortgage than they were paying before. That's -- that's a very important program. And again, we're seeing some -- some signs of stability in housing markets.

SAWYER:
So, for the people out there again, who -- who have been -- who still believe there are two recoveries. One for Main Street and one for Wall Street. One in peoples homes, where they're just reeling from job loss. And another -- on Main Street. You say it's true?

GEITHNER:
I would say there's no recovery yet. We -- we don't have in place yet a real recovery. We define recovery, and the president will define recovery, as -- as -- as people back to work. People able to get a job again. Businesses investing again. And we are not at the point where we can say that yet.

SAWYER:
Any regret on your part you want to express to them? That you think you could have done differently? That the government should have done differently to make it better for them today?

GEITHNER:
I have said this many times and I think it's absolutely true. The government of the United States, along with governments around the world, did not move early enough, did not move soon enough, to address this crisis. It underestimated the strength of the recession, underestimated the damage it was going to -- do. And underestimate what it was going to take. And did not see things start to improve until really the beginning of this year when there was overwhelming force put behind a strong recovery program. Strong housing program. Effort to fix this financial system.

SAWYER:
So, if you have --

GEITHNER:
And --

SAWYER:
-- one thing you say to yourself, "I wish I'd -- I wish I'd -- "

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