'This Week' Transcript: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

GEITHNER: Oh, I don't think there's any basis for that judgment. I mean, again, just think where we were. January of 2009, three-quarters of a million Americans losing their jobs. We have an economy now that's growing again. With growth you're going to see jobs created.

Again, we already saw some job -- a month where we had positive job growth. But, you know, it's going to take a while. It took a long time for these problems to develop. They're going to take some time to heal. But we're in a much stronger position today.

But our priority has to be, and I think you see broad recognition of this now, is to make sure we're working very hard to make sure that we're seeing this growth translate into more jobs to reach more Americans.

TAPPER: Some critics wonder how hard you're working when they look at, for instance, last March. You and the president introduced a program to shore up $15 billion in loans for small businesses. And according to the special inspector general for TARP, Neil Barofsky, no details for that plan have come out, none of that money has been disbursed, that's last March, it's the 7A program.

Have there been programs that you've introduced that just have not worked?

GEITHNER: Look, the programs that the president supported in the Recovery Act were very, very effective. You saw small -- lending by the Small Business Administration increase by more than 70 percent -- 75 percent from the lows. And we have been very effective at trying to make sure we're opening up the broader credit markets to companies around the world.

Again, remember where we were in January of last year. You know, if you were a company, large or small, if you were a family trying to borrow to buy a house or borrow to buy a car or put your kids in college, or you were a municipal government, you did not know whether you were going to be able to get a loan.

So it is tougher out -- it is tough out there still, but we have made dramatic progress in trying to make sure we bring stability to this financial system at much, much lower cost than anybody anticipated.

You know, again, last February, people thought it was going to cost maybe half a trillion dollars to put out this financial fire, and by getting private capital to come in and replace our investments, by allowing to bring those investments back out of the banking system, we've saved the taxpayer lots of money, and we have resources now we can use to try to make sure we're working very hard to meet our -- you know the many other challenges we face as a country.

TAPPER: Isn't the problem though not so much that the credit is not available, but that the businesses are not taking out the loans because nobody is buying anything?

GEITHNER: Well, again, you know, we had a huge shock to the American economy. And you're still living with the aftermath -- the aftershocks of that basic trauma. So businesses were very, very cautious. But if you look at what's happening today across the country, you're seeing again the first signs now of businesses starting to take some risk again, starting to invest again, and starting to add jobs back again.

But, you know, our job is to make sure we're working to reinforce that process.

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