Economic Boat’s Not Taking on Water, But Not Pumped Out Yet, Hoyer Says

By Dschabner

Mar 9, 2009 11:12pm

ABC News’ Matt Jaffe reports: After Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner addressed the House Democratic Caucus this evening, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the closed-door session was "not contentious," but Democrats did express concerns about the use of taxpayer funds as the Obama administration tries to lift the country out of its recession.

"The members of the caucus clearly raised the great concerns that the American people have about the amounts of money involved and about the effectiveness of that money," Hoyer said. "Secretary Geithner said that the administration shared that concern with the American public, but believed that not to have taken the action we’ve taken would have — in the short term, not so much in the very long term — caused an even greater loss to the economy, a greater loss of jobs, as severe as the loss of jobs has been."

However, the Maryland Democrat cautioned that Geithner’s attempts to convince Congressional Democrats that the administration’s actions are working is another challenge altogether.

"Secretary Geithner indicated that he believes that what we are doing is working, but the problem with working, of course, is that that means it’s not getting worse," he said. "Obviously the first effort was and had to be to stop the deterioration in the stability of the economy. It’s very difficult to show any of us progress when all you’re doing is stopping — the boat’s not taking on more water, but you haven’t yet pumped it out.

"I think Secretary Geithner is obviously trying to do and is doing the best job he can, given the circumstances that he inherited. This administration, I think, has done more than any administration, perhaps in history, including the [Franklin D.] Roosevelt administration, in a month, a little over a month, to beat a crisis that confronted it both here economically and abroad militarily in foreign policy. There’s still an ongoing desire to work with and to support this administration and Secretary Geithner in meeting this crisis."

With so much taxpayer money at stake, Hoyer emphasized that Congress will be focusing on strict oversight of how funds are spent.

"It is not acceptable for taxpayers to be asked to invest substantial sums of money in getting credit moving and stabilizing the housing market and not having that happen," he said.

Hoyer noted that the possibility of the administration seeking more money to address the financial crisis did not come up in the meeting.

"Secretary Geithner believes that it is working," Hoyer said. "This is not going to happen overnight and we need to stay the course."

Also after tonight’s meeting, with the Treasury Department under criticism for being short-staffed, a Democratic source told ABC News that Geithner told members of Congress that he will unveil his domestic team this week.

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