November 9th, 2011
05:33 PM ET
He’s President Obama’s top economic advisor. But these days, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is delving into raw politics.
CNN caught up with Geithner at an Intel Corp. manufacturing plant in Chandler, Arizona Tuesday. Geithner’s location alone is significant: Arizona is key to the president’s reelection efforts – a swing state with 10 electoral votes where Obama garnered a respectable 45 percent of the vote in 2008 despite the fact that Arizona’s own John McCain was on the opposing ticket.
It was there the treasury secretary took a break from negotiating Europe’s financial future to instead sell the president’s jobs bill – and the president’s political message – with unusual force.
He slammed the House Republicans’ economic proposals while calling on the GOP to start acting immediately.
“I don't think there is a Republican plan for tax reform. And there is no Republican plan to create jobs and economic growth,” said Geithner, adding later, “Unless the Republicans are willing to do more things to help the economy right now, then unemployment will stay too high.”
And he didn’t shy away from campaign politics either, when asked about Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney’s lengthy debt reduction plan that calls for significant government cuts.
“You can't cut your way to growth,” Geithner said. “We're in the middle of a very important debate about what the government can do and should do to make the economy stronger. But it would make us weaker as a country if we were to go out and cut our way to growth.”
“The economy is in a much stronger position than when he first took office because he was able to put out the financial fires and restart economic growth,” he said.
And as for the anger toward Wall Street as of late over the fact that few fat cats have paid a price for the financial turmoil some of their actions caused, Geithner had this to say:
“Stay tuned. The final chapter on that has not been written.”
Republicans were quick to respond to Geithner's jabs. Brendan Buck, a spokesperson for House Speaker John Boehner said, “Perhaps Mr. Geithner has too much on his plate to notice that the House has passed 22 bipartisan jobs bills that are currently sitting in the Democratic-run Senate. Like the President, the Treasury Secretary appears to be paying more attention to campaign talking points than what’s taking place in Congress.”
And Adrea Saul, a spokesperson at the Romney campaign, declared, "President Obama’s failed policies have devastated the middle class."
"President Obama has spent trillions of taxpayer dollars only to see more jobs lost, more families lose their homes, and our country lose its AAA credit rating. Mitt Romney is a conservative businessman who has actually created jobs," Saul added. "He believes that restoring our country’s fiscal health is critical to restoring the country’s economic foundation and ensure that we are best country in the world for businesses to grow and hire.”