WASHINGTON – Despite persistently high unemployment, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Friday the Obama administration’s economic stimulus plan is on the “expected path.”
“There’s been substantial improvements in arresting what was the worst recession globally we’ve seen in generations,” Geithner told lawmakers Friday.
Geithner’s remarks came amid waning public support for President Barack Obama’s economic policies. Republican critics say the rising unemployment rate is proof that the $787 billion stimulus has not helped reverse the effects of the recession.
“I was just wondering, where do you think your plan went wrong?” asked Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla.
About 2 million jobs have been lost since Congress passed Obama’s stimulus package in February. Unemployment stands at 9.5 percent, the highest in 26 years. Some Obama allies have been calling for Congress to pass a second stimulus package.
Geithner said the rate of decline in the economy has slowed, consumer confidence has improved, the financial system is healing, and concern about a financial meltdown has receded.
“Those are critically important signs of initial progress,” Geithner said.
Geithner also said:
•Joblessness is an inescapable element of a recession and that unemployment continues to rise even as an economy begins to improve. Without the stimulus, he said, more jobs would be lost.
•The U.S. needs greater government control over the generally unregulated but complex derivatives market, which he said contributed to the financial crisis.