Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner offered a cautiously optimistic assessment of the state of the U.S. economy, arguing that he expected it to grow by 2 percent to 3 percent in this election year.
Geithner, speaking to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said the health of the American business sector was strong and improving, with profits rivaling their pre-crisis peaks.
Still, he cautioned that America’s economic recovery could be derailed by events in Europe, where countries like Greece are facing a major fiscal crisis, and in the Middle East, where rising tensions with Iran are threatening to push oil prices higher.
Geithner defended the administration’s overall economic record, pushing back against Republican accusations that American businesses are over-regulated and over-taxed and pointing to new figures showing that the U.S. economy had created more than 3.2 million jobs on Obama’s watch.
“If you look at the basic health of the American business sector its much stronger I think anybody would have though at the peak of our crisis and stronger than many of us hoped,” Geithner said.
Geithner also inserted himself into the political debate here at home, arguing that Republican policy choices in Congress could further slow the U.S. economy. The domestic recovery, he argued, depends on “what happens in the world—meaning in Europe and in the Gulf because of oil—and frankly, if we want to be direct, if Republicans in Congress want to legislate things that are good for growth in the short term.”
Geithner also confirmed that he would be stepping down at the end of President Obama’s current term. He declined to answer a direct question about whether that was his choice or Obama’s, but suggested that he’d wanted to leave sooner but agreed to stay through this year at the president’s request.
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