Tax Increases and the New Book “Confidence Men”: Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 9/19/201

Sep 19, 2011 1:36pm

TAPPER: Secretary Geithner, just a couple questions. One, is it the– are you maintaining that $1.5 trillion in tax increases, all of which would be on the top two tax brackets as I understand it, will have no adverse impact whatsoever on job creation?

SEC. GEITHNER: Well, again, our proposal is, through a conference of tax reform, individual and corporate, to make the current tax system of the United States better for investment, better for growth, and more fair to average Americans. And if Congress were to meet those basic principles he laid out, then I am very confident that the modest changes we’re suggesting in terms of revenues would have — would make the economy stronger in the long term, not weaker in the long term.

Now, obviously you want to do it carefully, and that’s why the president laid out those specific principles. It is very important that we find a way to get Congress to make this tax system better for growth, better for investment in the United States. Lots of different ways to do that, but we want to meet — make sure we meet that – meet that basic test.

Remember, you know, we’re a very large economy, and we’re talking about estimates over 10 years. And $1.5 trillion in revenues relative to what would happen if you just extend all the Bush tax cuts is roughly 1 percent of the entire output of the American economy over that period of time. It is a modest change in revenues. And if you do it sensibly through tax reform that strengthens investment incentives, you’ll make growth in the United States stronger, you’ll make people more confident in the future, more likely they invest here, and that’s something we should all be working towards.

TAPPER: OK. I just wanted to ask one other question, and that’s I wanted to give you an opportunity — there’s a big, splashy book out this week called “Confidence Men,” which talks about you, portrays you as a cagey political operator. But I know you’re going to take issue with your portrayal, and I’ll give you —

GEITHNER: A cagey political operative –

TAPPER: Those might be my words, but — (laughter) — but there is —

GEITHNER: (Laughter.) What my mother would say.

TAPPER: There is a memo written in February 2010 by White House senior adviser Pete Rouse, who talks about — it’s a year-one review; it looks at the economic plan and it talks about a number of efforts by, in his view, the economic team here in the White House to kind of slow-roll, per the president’s orders. But it does say: Once the decision is made, implementation by the Department of the Treasury has at times been slow and uneven, and that that, along with the other factors, adversely affected execution of the policy process. So if you could respond to the book and also what Pete Rouse said about your execution.

GEITHNER: Well, obviously, I do disagree with that characterization. I haven’t read this book but, to borrow a phrase, I lived the reality. And the reports I’ve read about this book bear no resemblance to the reality we lived together — no resemblance.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: OK. Specifically, though, Mr. Secretary, did you slow walk on the president’s effort to rearrange –

GEITHNER: Absolutely not. And I would never do that. I’ve spent my life in public service. My great privilege to serve this president, and I would never contemplate doing that. But again, I lived the original, and the reality I lived, we all lived together, bears no relation to the sad little stories I heard reported from that book.

**

TAPPER: I just wanted to give you the opportunity to respond to the book, the Ron Suskind book, which the entire — well, it seems like almost the entire White House participated in. You guys gave the author a 50-minute interview with the president. It seems like he had first-person interviews with most of — most if not all of the players involved. He paints the picture of a president who is rolled by his advisers and at times does not make tough decisions when being asked.

And I wanted to make sure you had an opportunity to respond.

CARNEY: Thanks for that. Look, I too have not read the book, although I’ve read a lot about it. What we know is that very simple things, facts that could be ascertained — dates, titles, statistics, quotes — are wrong in this book. So I think that — in fact, one passage seems to be lifted almost entirely from Wikipedia in the book. I think, based on that, I would caution anyone to assume that if you can’t get those things right, that you suddenly get the broader analysis right.

That analysis is wrong. Tim Geithner, who lived it, just told you that it bears no resemblance to the reality he lived.

And what I just talked about goes right to that. The extraordinarily difficult times that this country was going through when this president took office and the extraordinarily complex and difficult decisions that this administration, this president, took, they weren’t easy, but they were necessary. And it took decisive leadership. It took a clarity of vision about where we needed to move the country. And it took a willingness to suffer political risk in order to do the right thing for the country. And that was absolutely at the heart of all the decisions the president made, and the president made them.

TAPPER: What part was lifted from Wikipedia?

CARNEY: We can get that for you. It just — it’s — there’s almost a word-for-word Wikipedia.

-Jake Tapper

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