Secretary Geithner tightens the reins

In one of his first acts as Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner today announced new rules that will make it harder for banks to lobby for a share of money set aside by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.
The new rules restrict the contact that bank lobbyists can have with Treasury officials, as well as what members of Congress can do to secure money on behalf of banks in their home districts.
"American taxpayers deserve to know that their money is spent in the most effective way to stabilize the financial system," Secretary Geithner said. "Today's actions reaffirm our commitment toward that goal."
Introducing him last night before he was sworn in, President Barack Obama spoke to the challenges Secretary Geithner faces, with a nod to the news that seven major American corporations -- including Caterpillar, Sprint/Nextel, and Home Depot -- announced they were cutting tens of thousands of jobs.
"It will take a Secretary of the Treasury who understands those challenges in all their complexities to help lead us forward," President Obama said. "You've got your work cut out for you, as I think everybody knows. But you also have my full confidence, my deepest trust, and my unyeilding belief that you can achieve what is required of us at this moment."
Vice President Biden administered the oath of office to Geithner, who had been confirmed that afternoon.
"We are at a moment of maximum challenge for our economy and our country," Secretary Geithner said in his remarks. "And our agenda, Mr. President, is to move quickly to help you do what the country asked you to do: 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; to make our tax system better at rewarding work and investment; to restore confidence in America's economic leadership around the world. I pledge all of my ability to help you meet that challenge, and to restore to all Americans the promise of a better future."
As Secretary Geithner thanked his family for their support, he remarked that he was inspired to enter public service by childhood travels with his family.
"My parents gave me, among many wonderful things, they gave me the important gift of showing me the world as a child," he said. "They took us to live in Zambia and Rhodesia, and then to India and to Thailand. And from those places, I saw America through the eyes of others. And it was that experience seeing the extraordinary influence of America on the world that led me to work in government."
Read last night’s remarks from the President and Secretary Geithner below.

 
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT SWEARING IN OF TREASURY SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER
U.S. Department of Treasury
Washington, D.C.
January 26, 2009
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, please have a seat. A short time ago, the United States Senate voted to confirm Timothy Geithner as our next Secretary of the Treasury. That deserves some applause. (Applause.) I want to thank Democratic and Republican senators for their show of confidence in Tim, and I want to thank Tim -- and Carole -- for their willingness to serve their country at a time when that service is desperately needed.
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. We cannot lose a day, because every day the economic picture is darkening -- here and across the globe. Just today we learned that seven major corporations will be laying off thousands more workers. This comes on top of the 2.5 million jobs we lost last year. And it will take a Secretary of the Treasury who understands this challenge and all its complexities to help lead us forward.
When Alexander Hamilton was sworn in as our first Treasury Secretary, his task was to weave together the disparate debts and economies of various states into one American system of credit and capital markets. More than two centuries later, that system is now in serious jeopardy. It has been badly weakened by an era of irresponsibility; a series of imprudent and dangerous decisions on Wall Street; and an unrelenting quest for profit with too little regard for risk, too little regulatory scrutiny, and too little accountability. The result has been a devastating loss of trust and confidence in our economy, our financial markets, and our government. That era must end right now, and I believe it can.
The very fact that this crisis is largely of our own making means that it is not beyond our ability to solve. Our problems are rooted in past mistakes, not our capacity for future greatness. It will take time, perhaps many years, but we can rebuild that lost trust and confidence. We can restore opportunity and prosperity. And I'm confident that Tim, along with Larry Summers and Peter Orszag and the rest of our economic team, can help us get there.
In the coming weeks and months, we will work together to stabilize our financial system and restart the flow of credit that families and businesses depend on to get a loan, make a payroll, or buy a home. But we'll do it in a way that protects the American taxpayer and includes the highest level of transparency and oversight so that the American people can hold us accountable for results.
Together, with both parties in Congress, we will launch a recovery and reinvestment plan that saves or creates more than 3 million jobs while investing in priorities like health care, education, and energy that will make us strong in the future. And I will be working with the entire economic team and Tim to reform and modernize our outdated financial regulations so that a crisis like this cannot happen again. We'll put in place new common-sense rules of the road and we will be vigilant in ensuring they are not bent or broken any longer.
So, congratulations, Tim. You've got your work cut out for you, as I think everybody knows, but you also have my full confidence, my deepest trust, my unyielding belief that we can rise to achieve what is required of us at this moment. Our work will not be easy and it will not be quick, but we will embrace it so that we can carry on the legacy of boundless opportunity and unmatched prosperity that has defined this nation since our earlier days.
And before I step aside from the podium, to all the wonderful staff at Treasury, who have been laboring long and hard over the last several months and years -- but particularly the last several months -- I want to thank you for your dedication and your service. You've been doing yeoman's work at a time when the country needs it, and I hope with Tim at the helm, that that work will result in jobs and businesses reopening and the kind of economic opportunity that the American people deserve.
So, with that, let's get Tim sworn in.

 
REMARKS BY TREASURY SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER
U.S. Department of Treasury
Washington, D.C.
January 26, 2009
SECRETARY GEITHNER: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. Vice President. And thanks to my many friends and colleagues for being here tonight. My wife Carole stood beside me as I took this oath of office as she has twice before in this building. I want to thank her for her extraordinary grace and support. She has this remarkable capacity for calm wisdom and empathy.
Our children, Elise and Benjamin, are back at school in New York studying for their midterm exams -- I hope they're studying. (Laughter.) I miss them very much and I'm very proud of them.
My terrific family is represented here tonight by my father, Peter Geithner, and my brother, David. My parents gave me, among many wonderful things, they gave me the important gift of showing me the world as a child. They took us to live in Zambia and Rhodesia, and then to India and to Thailand. And from those places, I saw America through the eyes of others. And it was that experience seeing the extraordinary influence of America on the world that led me to work in government.
I first walked into this building about 20 years ago. And I had at Treasury the wonderful experience of working with smart and dedicated people serving their country with the shared goal of making government more effective, in an environment where our obligation was to debate the merits, to do what was right, not what was easy or expedient, drawing on the best ideas and expertise in the nation.
Treasury's tradition is to defend the integrity of policy, to respect the constraints imposed by limited resources, and to limit government intervention to where it is essential to protect our financial system and to improve the lives of the American people. That tradition is critically important today because it is the source of the credibility that makes it possible for governments to do what is necessary to resolve a crisis.
In the world we confront today, Treasury has to be, and Treasury will be, a source of bold initiative. We are at a moment of maximum challenge for our economy and for our country. And our agenda, Mr. President, is to move quickly to help you do what the country asked you to do: 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; to make our tax system better at rewarding work and investment; to restore confidence in America's economic leadership around the world. I pledge all of my ability to help you meet that challenge, and to restore to all Americans the promise of a better future.
I want to thank Larry Summers, who has taught me so much about economic policy, a little bit about math, even some things about people. I am fortunate he is willing to work alongside me as we confront the nation's challenges.
Mr. President, I am deeply grateful for your trust and confidence. We will work our hearts out for you. Thank you for giving me this great privilege of working for you. I am eager to get to work.
Thank you. (Applause.)
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