U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, as expected, backed President Barack Obama’s budget plan on Tuesday, saying the government must resolve its debt ceiling crisis well before Aug. 2 and bring its deficits down “gradually but dramatically” over the next three to five years.
In remarks given at the Harvard Club in New York just one day after the Treasury hit its debt ceiling, Geithner (left) spoke of unsustainable future fiscal deficits caused in part by the many Americans who will turn 65 in the next decade.
The text of the Treasury secretary’s remarks, “A Conversation on the Economy and Our Fiscal Challenge,” was liberally sprinkled with references to Obama’s budget proposal, including a framework that proposes changes to the tax code that will reduce the deficit.
Pointing to the debt ceiling during his Tuesday evening speech, Geithner blamed the Republican-led Congress for not acting and thus forcing the Treasury to deploy a series of extraordinary measures to prevent default.
“I want to emphasize again that if a fiscal agreement is not reached in the coming weeks, in advance of August 2nd, then the debt limit must still be increased,” Geithner said. “It simply is not an option for Congress to evade the basic responsibility to protect America’s creditworthiness.”
The Treasury secretary pointed out that the debt ceiling is a constantly moving target, and has in fact been raised 70 times in the past when government spending has overshot its budget.