Magazine article Newsweek

Secretary of the Recovery

Magazine article Newsweek

Secretary of the Recovery

Article excerpt

With each day, it seems, the Obama administration is unveiling another plan to bring sweeping reform to a broken sector of the U.S. economy--regulatory oversight, executive pay, credit cards. In front of a live audience last week at a luncheon in Washington, D.C., Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner spoke with NEWSWEEK'S Jon Meacham about what his team is doing, how it's working and what's next. Excerpts:

Has the economy bottomed out?

Things have clearly stabilized. The pace of decline in most measured economic activity has slowed quite a lot, and that's an important beginning. You're seeing some improvements in credit markets. But this is still the most challenging economic crisis that this country has seen in generations. It's not going to feel better for a long time for millions of Americans.

You have two children. The deficits over the next 10 years are expected to hit $11 trillion. How do you feel about saddling them with that debt?

Our immediate imperative is to get growth back on track. Nothing is possible without that. That requires us to do things that are expensive, that cost money and in the short term will raise deficits. But at the same time, we have to commit to Americans, to investors around the world, that we're going to get back to living within our means when the crisis is past.

How big a political problem will the deficit be going forward?

Oh, it's going to be one of the defining economic challenges, political challenges, of the next five years, without a doubt. …

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