ABC’s Matt Jaffe reports from DC:
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner today appeared before Congress for the third time in three days, continuing to defend the Obama administration’s budget proposal in the face of stern Republican opposition. "The president’s budget tries to spend, tax, and borrow our way into prosperity," said Rep. Paul Ryan, ranking member of the House Budget Committee, in his opening statement. "It’s an economic recipe that simply just doesn’t work."
But Geithner responded that it was the Bush administration’s approach of the past eight years that didn’t work. "The most wealthy, most fortunate, richest 1% of Americans received 75% of the gains in income across the overall economy over the last six to eight years," he said. "This restores some basic fairness to the American economy in a fiscally responsible way that will leave our economy stronger for the future."
Just hours before President Obama’s healthcare forum at the White House, Geithner this morning made the case on Capitol Hill for widespread healthcare reform. "In a country with these resources, it’s just hard to understand why we can’t deliver better healthcare more broadly spread to all Americans, regardless of how fortunate they are in life," he said. "We spend almost twice what the typical mature economy spends on healthcare and despite that, we don’t provide materially better results in terms of life expectancy and we have large parts of our economy that don’t benefit from quality care," he noted.
The Treasury chief today also defended the carbon emissions cab-and-trade proposals in the plan, saying the policy would raise hundreds of billions of dollars and help the country achieve energy independence. "It is critically important for our country that we begin the process now of changing the incentives Americans face for how they use energy," he said. "It’s important to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, it is critical for climate change."
But Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-WY, was far from convinced, echoing a chorus of Republican dissent. "You’re scaring the wits out of the American people," she told Geithner. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, was another GOP member none too impressed with the administration’s proposed measures. "Are you or are you not proposing to double the national debt in eight years under your budget?", he asked Geithner. "Congressman, what we are proposing to do is to fix the crisis we inherited," Geithner responded. "And to make our economy more productive in the future and to do so in a way that’s fiscally responsible and brings our deficits down to the levels where we stabilize the overall level of debt to GDP, so if…" "Mr. Secretary," Hensarling interrupted. "It’s clear that you do not wish to answer the question."