Daily Archives: February 15, 2011

By Alan Rappeport

Tim Geithner, US Treasury secretary, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on February 15 to discuss President Obama’s budget proposals for fiscal year 2012. His full remarks are here.

3:25pm – With time expired, Mr Geithner agrees to field three more questions and respond in writing.

3:23pm – Mr Geithner reminds Ms Jenkins that generous tax credits will assist farmers an offer incentives and make capital investments.

3:19pm – Mr Geithner is asked by Lynn Jenkins of Kansas if he knows how much a new combine costs (he does not) to make a point about the costs of running a farm and how estate taxes are hurting agricultural workers.

The shape of the budget had been widely trailed so it did not come as a great surprise, but to find the administration making no effort at all to prepare public opinion for future fiscal tightening was still a disappointment. Its excuse is that ideas for tax and entitlement reform cannot be thrust upon a Congress (or a country) as divided as this one; if the White House were to attempt it, the effort would only backfire and the chances of getting the reforms passed might actually diminish. You need something closer to consensus first, says the administration. It’s an obvious evasion, though much of the press seems to be lapping it up. Short of an outright fiscal crisis, a consensus for fiscal restraint isn’t going to emerge spontaneously. Raising taxes and curbing entitlements is never going to be popular. Support will have to be built, and Obama should be trying to build it.

Clive Crook’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

I have been the FT's Washington columnist since April 2007. I moved from Britain to the US in 2005 to write for the Atlantic Monthly and the National Journal after 20 years working at the Economist, most recently as deputy editor. I write mainly about the intersection of politics and economics.

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