Q&A with Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner

Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner discussed the nation's economic recovery at a July 22 Monitor Breakfast.

Michael Bonfigli/Special to The Christian Science Monitor/File
Timothy Geithner said the stimulus package helped the US recover from the financial crisis much faster than other countries at a July 22 Monitor Breakfast.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner assumed his post in January 2009. He previously served as a top Treasury official in the Clinton administration and as president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. He was guest speaker at the July 22 Monitor breakfast in Washington. On calls by House minority leader John Boehner to repeal the new financial regulations if the GOP takes control of the House in the 2010 elections:

"The reason this bill became law was because Republicans decided they could not block it.... It is inconceivable to me that they would find it compelling to try to undo the basic architecture of reforms."

On whether Harvard Prof. Elizabeth Warren should be named to head the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, a move liberals favor and some Republicans oppose:

"She has enormous credibility – credibility that came not just from being the original inspiration for an agency dedicated to a single mission of consumer protection, but [also], at a very early stage in [the] credit boom that led to the crisis, she was an early advocate of reform.... She would be an enormously effective leader of that important part of this new architecture. Of course, the president is going to make that decision."

On whether the Treasury is considering seizing BP assets to make sure it has the cash needed to pay for cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:

"I have not been exposed to any concern in that direction."

On the fact that the heirs of New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner can inherit his fortune tax-free because the federal estate tax has lapsed:

"It is a terribly troubling thing that the United States of America would let that lapse and leave the future of it so uncertain for so long a period of time.... The president's position is that we should restore the estate tax and extend it at its [2009] rates going forward."

On whether the Steinbrenner family should voluntarily pay estate tax:

"It is an excellent question."

On the greatest frustration in his job:

"Legislating is a challenge. These [recently passed financial] reforms required legislation.... And as you have seen, that was a remarkably complicated, challenging task because our system gives ... a lot of voice to people who want to exempt themselves from those rules."

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