Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the U.S. economy is in a “much stronger position” than it was two years ago.
The same could be said of him.
Once the focal point for criticism of the administration’s struggle to resolve the financial crisis, opposed by almost all Senate Republicans for confirmation, and the butt of jokes by late-night comedians, Geithner has emerged as President Barack Obama’s most powerful economic policy maker. His influence on everything from overhauling housing finance to remaking the corporate tax code is reminiscent of the clout that Robert Rubin and James Baker enjoyed when they ran Treasury.
“Many would have faltered during those tough days at the beginning, but he didn’t,” said Roger Altman, founder of the investment bank Evercore Partners Inc. and a former deputy Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton. “And, between the success of the TARP investments, the auto rescues, and the overall recovery in the banking system, he’s now on top.”
At a Bloomberg Breakfast yesterday, the 49-year-old Geithner parried with leading reporters from nine news organizations on a variety of subjects, from budget battles with Republicans to U.S. differences with China over its currency policy.
He outlined a two-pronged approach to closing the federal budget gap: lowering the record $1.6 trillion deficit to more manageable levels over the next five years, and then tackling the longer-term peril posed by entitlement programs such as the Medicare health-insurance system.