'This Week' Transcript: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Transcript: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

ByABC News
January 22, 2010, 2:35 PM

Feb. 7, 2010 — -- ABC News: This Week

Jake Tapper Interview with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

TAPPER: The latest jobs numbers are disappointing in a lot of ways. Larry Summers was on this broadcast in December and he said that the economy would be creating jobs by the spring. Do you still believe that to be true?

GEITHNER: Absolutely. But remember where we were a year ago. You know, you had an economy that was shrinking at an annual rate of 6 percent. Three-quarters of a million Americans were losing their jobs every month. And the president acted with enormous force and care to get this economy growing again.

And the economy is now growing again. So we're seeing some encouraging signs of healing. This is going to take a while, and it's going to be uneven. But there's encouraging signs in this report. The unemployment came down modestly and created jobs back in November.

And our job, our responsibility is to make sure we're working very hard to reinforce this recovery. And we're seeing this growth that has just been established translate into more jobs.

TAPPER: How possible is it that we're going to have a double dip recession?

GEITHNER: I think we -- we have much, much lower risk of that today than at any time over the last 12 months or so. Again just think of where we are. We are in an economy that was growing at the rate of almost 6 percent of GDP in the fourth quarter of last year. The most rapid rate in six years. So we are beginning the process of healing.

And we have the capacity as a government to try to make sure we are reinforcing that process. And we help guide this economy back to the point where we're not just growing again, but we've seen growth translate into jobs. And that we're reaching the lives of all Americans.

TAPPER: I think a lot of Americans wonder if you're doing enough. There was a more than $800 billion stimulus package. They're talking now on the Hill about a more than $100 billion jobs package. But still, if you look at the budget that you guys introduced, you're still projecting 10 percent unemployment this year, more than 9 percent next year, more than 8 percent next year.

I realize that's going in the right direction, but it's still a staggeringly high number of unemployed. Are you doing enough?

GEITHNER: We need to -- we have more work to do, absolutely we have more work to do. And you heard the president at the State of the Union say, we want to work with the Congress now to try to make sure we are creating incentives to create more jobs, we're encouraging business investment, we're putting resources into infrastructure, we're giving help to state and local governments.

And it is very important people understand that we have more work to do and we can afford that, it's important to it, our basic priority still is to make sure that this growth we're seeing now, which is very encouraging, translates into more jobs more quickly.

TAPPER: The new senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, one of the first things he said after being sworn in was that the stimulus package has not created one job.

BROWN:"The last stimulus bill didn't create one new job. And in some states, the money that was actually released hasn't even been used yet."

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.