'This Week' Transcript: Timothy Geithner Full Interview

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The question we should all be debating is what can we do to make the economy stronger and make sure the gains of growth are -- are shared more broadly?

And the president's policies are making the economy stronger. And the alternatives proposed by his opposition would be devastating, not just to the safety net, but to investments in education. They would be very damaging to the economy. And we're not going to support them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the president has been arguing this week, the whole administration, this week, for the so-called Buffett Rule, which would establish a minimum effect tax rate of 30 percent for millionaires.

When he first announced this last fall, the president argued that the rule would, quote, "stabilize our debt and deficits for the next decade."

But your own numbers show it would raise only about $5 billion a year.

GEITHNER: Well, let me just -- maybe -- let me just correct that. The president proposed this as part of a very comprehensive, detailed, long-term fiscal program that would bring our deficits down to a sustainable level. And as part of that, he has proposed a modest increase in the effective tax rates pays -- paid by the richest Americans.

This is one way to do that, important to do. And we're proposing to do it as part of a balanced package of fiscal reforms.

But he never claimed and we never claimed that this measure alone would get us the trillions in savings we need to bring those deficits down.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he seemed to at one fundraiser back in September. But I take your point. You're saying he's making the -- that it's just one part of his overall...

GEITHNER: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- economic plan.

Are you worried at all, though, that it might harm growth, these taxes, when the economy is still weak?

GEITHNER: No risk of that. Again, we're proposing a balanced set of fiscal reforms that make room for investments that will be good for job creation and the economy, in education, in infrastructure, in investment. Those things are necessary to make sure that we're making this economy stronger in the near-term and in the long run.

Now, as part of that, we don't see a feasible way -- a feasible economic strategy, a feasible political strategy, for bringing down those long-term deficits, except by asking the most fortunate Americans to pare -- to pay a somewhat larger share of their income in taxes. And what this Buffett Rule does is make sure that happens by limiting the ability of millionaires to take advantage of deductions and loopholes in the tax codes.

It's a simple, fair thing. It's good economic policy. It's good tax policy. And it should be part of a broad program to restore fiscal (INAUDIBLE).

STEPHANOPOULOS: But your main argument for this is that it's part of shared sacrifice. Everyone has to contribute to deficit reduction?

GEITHNER: Exactly. And if you look at the -- the burd -- the -- a big part of the burden for a sensible long-term fiscal plan is going to fall on middle class Americans. You know, again, we're proposing an approach where there's a $2.50 of spending cuts for every $1 in revenue raises. A lot of the burden of those spending cuts is going to be shared broadly across the American people.

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