By a vote of 60-34, the U.S. Senate confirmed Timothy
Geithner as Treasury Secretary in the Obama administration on Monday, clearing
the way for him to get to work on the U.S. economic crisis.
Senate vote and in a demonstration of support for his nominee, President Obama
went to the Treasury Department Monday night where Geithner was sworn in by Vice
President Joseph Biden.
"I came here tonight because at this moment of
challenge and crisis, Tim's work and the work of the entire Treasury Department
must begin at once," said President Obama. "We cannot lose a day because every
day the economic picture is worsening, here and across the globe."
the country and its economy are at a moment of "maximum challenge," Geithner
pledged to get to work.
"To launch the programs that will bring economic
recovery sooner, to make our economy more productive and more just in the
opportunities it provides our citizens, to restore trust in our financial system
with fundamental reform," said Timothy Geithner.
Geithner was head of the
New York Federal Reserve Bank and has extensive experience in the Treasury
Despite what he has called his "careless mistake" in failing
to pay several years of self-employment taxes while working for the
International Monetary Fund, the Senate voted to confirm his
Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida underscored the urgency of
confirming Geithner, saying he will have the job of ensuring accountability and
transparency in government financial rescue programs.
"There is not a
more important mandate than for him to crack the whip and make sure this federal
money, this public money, this taxpayer money, is being spent as it was intended
in holding people accountable and reporting the results," said Bill
However, Republican Jim Bunning of Kentucky opposed the
nomination, asserting that Geithner in previous roles did nothing to help
prevent the U.S. financial meltdown.
"He went along with all the flawed
monetary policy decisions of [former Federal Reserve Chairman] Alan Greenspan
and [current Federal Reserve Chairman] Ben Bernanke, and he stretched the law
beyond recognition to bail out [investment bank] Bear Stearns and later AIG
[American International Group]," said Jim Bunning. "All those actions, or
failure to act, raise questions about the nominee's judgment."
also questioned Geithner's role in the formulation of the much-criticized
$700-billion financial institution rescue plan approved during the Bush
Republican Mike Enzi said Geithner was not the right
choice for the job.
"Mr. Geithner's career at the New York [Federal
Reserve] should be described more as a financier of Wall Street than as a
steward of the American taxpayer and monetary policy," said Mike
But Senate Banking Committee Chairman Democrat Christopher Dodd
argued that Geithner is qualified to handle the financial crisis.
fortunate to have a talented individual who is willing to step and assume this
responsibility," said Christopher Dodd. "And rather than decrying it, and
lambasting him, we ought to be thanking him."
comes as Congress prepares to take up the $825-billion American Recovery and
Reinvestment Plan, a measure President Obama says is critical to preventing
further economic recession.
The legislation, which the House of
Representatives will consider this week, contains $275 billion in tax cuts and
$550 billion in spending on domestic infrastructure projects, health care,
education, science, energy and other areas.
While the bill is likely to
win easy approval along party lines in the House, these remarks by Republican
Frank Wolf and Democrat Peter DeFazio reflected the strong feelings about its
cost and effectiveness:
Wolf: "By letting this stimulus
legislation pass the House without addressing the underlying problem of out of
control spending, we are evading our responsibility as members of
DeFazio: "We need more substantial investment. There
is a lot of talk about 'shovel ready' [projects that can be implemented
immediately], there is a lot of talk about infrastructure. We need to deliver
on those promises. And thus far, this legislation that's being proposed falls
President Obama will use a Tuesday visit to Capitol Hill to try
to ease concerns of Republicans who assert that the measure would fail to have
the desired effect, and sharply expand deficit spending.
elimination of jobs by several major U.S. companies on Monday will add tens of
thousands of people to already record unemployment rolls.
said the new layoffs demonstrate the need for swift action on the economic