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Timothy Geithner: GOP to Blame for Economic Problems

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner today put much of the blame of the nation’s slow economic recovery on Republicans in Congress.

If President Barack Obama had had “more support from his opponents in Congress, then we could have got more things passed that would have put more people back to work more quickly,” Geithner said on ABC’s “This Week.”

The Treasury secretary, making the rounds on the Sunday talk show circuit the day before Tax Day, added that “the actions the president took, at considerable political cost at that time — as you know, he had no support for them, from the Republicans — were incredibly effective in preventing a great depression, getting growth restarted again very, very quickly.”

Geithner also said the administration is making a lot of progress in the areas that caused the 2008 crisis, including “bringing down risk in the financial system, working through the housing problems. And consumers are bringing down those debt burdens. And those are all very encouraging things for the strength of the economy going forward.”

Sticking to a theme of taxation, “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos said that impending tax increases coming at year’s end are being dubbed “Taxmageddon” and asked Geithner how worried he and the president are that Congress won’t extend current tax cuts, including those for the middle class, before Dec. 31.

“There’s no reason that has to happen,” Geithner said. “And, of course, we’d sign, today, an extension of the middle-class tax cuts that go to 98 percent of Americans just to protect for them today, protect them against any risk that — that the politicians in Washington can’t — can’t come together on this by the end of the year.”

If they can’t agree on an extension before the November elections, then Members have a “very strong incentive to come together in the lame-duck session and put in place a balanced package of fiscal reforms over the long run, to prevent that kind of damage to the economy,” Geithner added.

The economy continues to be a dominant theme on the presidential campaign trail, too. Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod defended the president’s position against the budget proposal of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and said on “Fox News Sunday” it represents “the wrong direction for this country” in part because it would result in more cuts to social safety nets.

Axelrod also defended the “Buffett Rule,” a proposal the president backs that would require households with adjusted gross incomes of more than $2 million a year to pay a minimum tax rate of 30 percent.

He acknowledged that it, alone, would not undo the nation’s deficit but called it “part of an overall plan that will stabilize our debt and deficit.”

Following news reports that the president paid a tax rate of a little more than 20 percent, less than his secretary, Axelrod indicated the president had no intention of donating extra money to the Treasury, saying that’s not how the tax system works and that it’s the larger system Obama seeks to change.

On the Buffett Rule, Geithner said on “This Week” that it would not further damage the economy. “Remember, the effective tax rates on the richest Americans today are at the lowest point they’ve been in a very long period of time,” he said. “And I think there’s no credible argument that asking them to pay a modestly higher share of their income taxes would be damaging to economic growth, particularly relative to the alternatives.”

Also on “Fox News Sunday,” strategist Ed Gillespie, who has recently signed on as a senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s campaign, said that the former Massachusetts governor would gain traction with women and minority groups, whose support he has struggled to attain, with his economic proposals that would help lift all people “out of poverty.” Gillespie added that Romney’s vision for the country is one of a “dynamic, pro-growth economy based on free enterprise.” He also defended Romney’s filing for an extension for his 2011 tax returns as not out of the ordinary.

Gillespie also responded to a news report that said he had been tasked with spearheading Romney’s search for a vice presidential candidate and that one would be selected soon. “It was news to me,” he said, adding that his focus during his short time with the campaign had not been on finding a running mate and did not know the timeline for the search.

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