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Posts Tagged ‘Tim Geithner’

Geithner To Ryan On Debt: We Don’t “Have A Definitive Solution To Our Long-Term Problem

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s29X6Wm0J1Q[/youtube]Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the Obama Administration’s definition of leadership.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner spar over debt. Transcript below:

Ryan: Here’s the point, if you’ll allow me. This is your time, so we’ll just take a long time. Here’s the point. Leaders are supposed to fix problems. We have a $99.4 trillion unfunded liability. Our government is making promises to Americans that it has no way of accounting for them. And so you’re saying yeah, we’re stabilizing it but we’re not fixing it in the long run. That means we’re just going to keep lying to people. We’re going to keep all these empty promises going.

And so what we’re saying is, in order to avert a debt crisis — you’re the Treasury Secretary — if we can’t make good on our bonds in the future, who is going to invest in our country? We do not want to have a debt crisis. And so it comes down to confidence and trajectory. Do we have confidence that we’re getting our fiscal situation under control, that we’re preventing the debt from getting at these catastrophic levels?

If we go back to the preceding chart, number 13, you’re showing that you have no plan to get this debt under control. You’re saying we’ll stabilize it but then it’s just going to shoot back up. So my argument is, that’s Europe. That is bringing us toward a European debt crisis because we’re showing the world, the credit market’s future seniors — people who are organizing their lives around the promises that are being made to them today — that we don’t have a plan to make good on this.

Geithner: Mr. Chairman, as I said, maybe we’re not disagreeing in a sense. I made it absolutely clear that what our budget does is get our deficit down to a sustainable path over the budget window.

Ryan: And then they take back off.

Geithner: Why do they take off again? Why do they do that?

Ryan: Because we have 10,000 people retiring everyday and healthcare costs going up.

Geithner: That’s right. We have millions of Americans retiring everyday, and that will drive substantial further rise in the growth of healthcare costs. We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to our long-term problem. What we do know is we don’t like yours.Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner: We have millions of Americans retiring everyday and that will drive substantial growth rates for healthcare costs. We’re not becoming before you to say we have a definitive solution to our long-term problem. What we do know is that we don’t like yours

Echoes of the Great Depression

As in the 1930s, policy uncertainty and hostility to business have retarded recovery. At least this time around the political price for economic failure promises to be swift.

The Wall Street Journal
OCTOBER 1, 2010

By PHIL GRAMM
This may not be your grandfather’s Great Depression, but many aspects of today’s situation would remind him of the 1930s. If the recession that officially ended a year ago feels uncomfortably surreal to you yet familiar to him, it’s probably because the recovery went missing.
During the average recovery since World War II, gross domestic product (GDP) surpassed the pre-recession high five quarters after the recession began. It has never taken longer than seven quarters. Yet today, after 11 quarters, GDP is still below what it was in the fourth quarter of 2007. The economy is growing at only about a third of the rate of previous postwar recoveries from major recessions.
Obama administration officials such as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner have argued that without their policies the economy would be worse, and we might have fallen “off a cliff.” While this assertion cannot be tested, we can compare the recent experience of other countries to our own.
The chart nearby compares total 2007 employment levels in the United States, the United Kingdom, the 16 euro zone countries, the G-7 countries and all OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries with those of the second quarter of 2010. There are 4.6% fewer people employed in the U.S. today than at the start of the recession. Euro zone countries have lost 1.7% of their jobs. Total employment in the U.K. is down 0.6%, G-7 average employment is down 2.4%, and OECD employment has fallen 1.9%.


This simple comparison suggests two things. First, that American economic policy has been less effective in increasing employment than the policies of other developed nations. Second, that if there was a cliff out there, no country fell off. Those that suffered the most were the most profligate, such as Greece, and their problems can’t be blamed on the financial crisis. While the most recent quarterly growth figures are just a snapshot in time, it is hardly encouraging that economic growth in the U.S. (1.7%) is lower than in the euro zone (4%), U.K. (4.8%), G-7 (2.8%) and OECD (2%).

Most striking about these comparisons is their similarity to the U.S. experience in the Great Depression. Using data from the League of Nations’ World Economic Survey, we can look at unemployment in developed nations between 1929 and the end of 1938. Ten years after the stock market crash, total employment in the U.S. was still almost 20% below the pre-Depression level. The decline in France was similar. But in the U.K. and Italy, total employment was up 10% and 12%, respectively. Industrial production on average in the six most developed countries was almost 16% above their 1929 levels by the end of 1938, but industrial production had declined by 20% in the U.S.
Today’s lagging growth and persistent high unemployment are reminiscent of the 1930s, perhaps because in no other period of American history has our government followed policies as similar to those of the Great Depression era
. Federal debt by the end of 1938 was almost 150% above the 1929 level. Federal spending grew by 77% from 1932 to 1934 as the New Deal was implemented—unprecedented for peacetime.
Still the economy did not take off. Winston Churchill gave a contemporary evaluation of the Roosevelt policy by observing, in the April 24, 1935, Daily Mail, “Nearly two thousand millions Sterling have been poured out to prime the pump of prosperity; but prosperity has not begun to flow.”
The top individual income tax rate rose from 24% to 63% to 79% during the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations. Corporate rates were increased to 15% from 11%, and when private businesses did not invest, Congress imposed a 27% undistributed profits tax.
In 1929, the U.S. government collected $1.1 billion in total income taxes; by 1935 collections had fallen to $527 million. In 1929, individual income taxes accounted for 38% of government revenues, corporate taxes accounted for 43%, and excise taxes for 19%. By 1939, individual income taxes made up only 26% of federal revenues, corporate income taxes made up 29%, and excise taxes made up 45%.
When Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau suggested to President Roosevelt that the administration cut income tax rates in 1939, Roosevelt, apparently concerned about the possible effect of deficit-financed tax cuts on interest rates, asked, “You are willing to pay usury in order to get recovery?” Morgenthau said that he responded, “Yes sir.” The president disagreed.
The Roosevelt administration also conducted a seven-year populist tirade against private business, which FDR denounced as the province of “economic royalists” and “malefactors of great wealth.” The war on business and wealth was so traumatic that the League of Nations’ 1939 World Economic Survey attributed part of the poor U.S. economic performance to it: “The relations between the leaders of business and the Administration were uneasy, and this uneasiness accentuated the unwillingness of private enterprise to embark on further projects of capital expenditure which might have helped to sustain the economy.”
Churchill, who was generally guarded when criticizing New Deal policies, could not hold back. “The disposition to hunt down rich men as if they were noxious beasts,” he noted in “Great Contemporaries” (1939), is “a very attractive sport.” But “confidence is shaken and enterprise chilled, and the unemployed queue up at the soup kitchens or march out to the public works with ever growing expense to the taxpayer and nothing more appetizing to take home to their families than the leg or wing of what was once a millionaire. . . It is indispensable to the wealth of nations and to the wage and life standards of labour, that capital and credit should be honoured and cherished partners in the economic system. . . .”
The regulatory burden exploded during the Roosevelt administration, not just through the creation of new government agencies but through an extraordinary barrage of executive orders—more than all subsequent presidents through Bill Clinton combined. Then, as now, uncertainty reigned. As the textile innovator Lammot du Pont complained in 1937, “Uncertainty rules the tax situation, the labor situation, the monetary situation, and practically every legal condition under which industry must operate.”
Henry Morgenthau
summarized the policy failure to the House Ways and Means Committee in April 1939: “Now, gentleman, we have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work . . . I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started . . . and an enormous debt, to boot.”
Despite the striking similarities between then and now, there is one major difference: Roosevelt’s policies remained popular even as the economy faltered. The magnitude of the Depression, with its lack of stabilizers and safety nets, traumatized Americans and undermined their confidence in the economic system. This induced voters, as historians would later do, to judge Roosevelt not on his results but on his intentions.
Today, however, the Obama program appears to be failing politically as well as in the marketplace. The trauma of the financial crisis did not approach that of the Great Depression, and Americans do not appear to have lost faith in our economic system or come to see government as the savior. While progressivism gave the New Deal its intellectual foundations, history today is driven by the freedom tide that produced our economic revival in the 1980s and ’90s and still drives economic liberalization in China and India.
Finally, we should not underestimate that this administration faces stronger and more united congressional opposition than FDR ever faced. The House and Senate Republican leadership has far surpassed all expectations of a minority party.
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Boehner of Ohio have led a loyal opposition that, through its unity, has exposed the radical underbelly of the Obama program. Young guns like Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Jeb Hensarling of Texas have provided vision and energy.
FDR rode the tide of history while President Obama strives mightily against it.
The progressive vision that resonated in the 1930s foundered on the hard experience of the 20th century, and it has no broad appeal in the 21st. The recovery from the Great Depression did not occur until World War II was underway, but it appears, as of today, that voters will bring the latest experiment in American collectivism to an end on Nov. 2. A real economic recovery won’t be far behind.
Mr. Gramm is a former U.S. senator from Texas and former professor of economics at Texas A&M University.

The definition of …

The definition of …
By George F. Will
George F. Will is a columnist for The Washington Post and Newsweek
Sunday, September 12, 2010
WASHINGTON
Looking back with pride, the British are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, when Winston Churchill said of the pilots fighting the Luftwaffe:
Never “was so much owed by so many to so few.”
Looking ahead with trepidation, Americas are thinking:
Never have so many of us owed so much.
Actually, they owed slightly more when the recession began, when household consumer debt was $2.6 trillion. The painful but necessary process of deleveraging is proceeding slowly: Such debt has been reduced only to $2.4 trillion.
Add to that the facts that the recession has reduced household wealth by $10 trillion and that only 25 percent of Americans expect their incomes to improve next year. So they are not spending. And companies, having given the economy a temporary boost last year by rebuilding inventories, are worried.
Hence, rather than hiring, companies are sitting on cash reserves much larger than the size of last year’s $862 billion stimulus.
Democrats who say another stimulus is necessary for job creation — but who dare not utter the word “stimulus” — are sending three depressing messages:
• the $862 billion stimulus did not work
• the public so loathes the word that another stimulus will not happen
• therefore prosperity is not “just around the corner,” as Herbert Hoover supposedly said (but did not).
Consumers and businesses are responding to those messages by heeding Polonius’ advice in “Hamlet”: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”
Hoover — against whom Democrats, those fountains of fresh ideas, have been campaigning for 78 years — is again being invoked as a terrible warning about the wages of sin. Sin is understood by liberals as government austerity, which is understood as existing levels of government spending, whatever they are, whenever. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner recently said that Germans favoring reduced rather than increased state spending sounded “a little bit like Hoover.”
Well.
Real per capita federal expenditures almost doubled between 1929, Hoover’s first year as president, and 1932, his last. David Kennedy, in “Freedom from Fear,” the volume in the Oxford history of the American people that deals with the Depression, writes of Hoover:
“He nearly doubled federal public works expenditures in three years. Thanks to his prodding, the net stimulating effect of federal, state and local fiscal policy was larger in 1931 than in any subsequent year of the decade.”
Barack Obama has self-nullifying plans for stimulating the small-business sector that creates most new jobs. He has just endorsed tax relief for such businesses but opposes extension of the Bush tax cuts for high-income filers, who include small businesses with 48 percent of that sector’s earnings.
The stance of other Democrats seems to be that the Bush cuts were wicked in conception, reckless in execution — and should be largely, and perhaps entirely, extended.
Does this increase anyone’s confidence?
About as much as noting the one-year anniversary of the end of another of the administration’s brainstorms.
The used car market is an important mechanism for redistributing wealth to low-income persons: The price of a car drops when it is driven out of the dealership but much of its transportation value remains when it enters the used car market. Unfortunately for low-income people, the average price of a three-year-old automobile has increased more than 10 percent since last summer.
This is largely because the Car Allowance Rebate System, aka “Cash for Clunkers,” which ended in late August 2009, cut the supply of used cars.
Cash for Clunkers provided up to $4,500 to those who traded in a car in order to purchase a new car with better gas mileage but stipulated that the used car had to be scrapped. The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby reports that a study by Edmunds.com shows that all but 125,000 of the 700,000 cars sold during the clunkers program would have been bought even if no subsidy had been available.
If this is so, each incremental sale cost taxpayers $24,000.
Even on environmental grounds the program was, Jacoby argues, “an exorbitant dud”: The reduction in carbon dioxide from removing older cars from the road cost, according to research at the University of California at Davis, $237 a ton (the international market prices carbon emissions credits at about $20 a ton) and the new higher-mileage cars mean a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of less than what Americans emit every hour.
Obama is desperately urging consumers and investors to have confidence in his understanding of economics. They might, however, remember his characteristic certitude that “cash for clunkers” was “successful beyond anybody’s imagination.”

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