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Geithner defends economic plan on Hill

March 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The bulls were off and running again on Wall Street, where stock prices rallied for the third straight day. The Dow leaped by 239 points to close at 7,170, while the NASDAQ gained 54 to finish at 1,426. But the financial news wasn't all positive for the White House.While the stock market was having another good day, President Barack Obama and his administration were having another difficult one. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate went after the president's plans for the economy.

As the economy continues to limp along, house Republicans unloaded on the Obama administration and congressional Democrats for their handling of the economy.

"The house is on fire, the financial crisis is at our doorstep," said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

"Everything that has been tried so far hasn't worked," said House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

But the administration insists their moves will pay off. At Thursday's stimulus implementation conference, the vice president assured Americans: that there will be no waste.

"Just because it may be legal, it is not acceptable," said Vice President Joe Biden. "Little hint: No swimming pools in this money."

Meantime Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner found himself in a battle Thursday, defending President Obama's budget before Democrats and Republicans alike. The senators on the budget committee questioned Geithner's past decisions.

"Just look back at what happened in the fall," said Geither.

"I did, I disagreed completely with what you did," said Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky).

They questioned the administration's future budget outlook.

"There's no discipline there," said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).

They questioned Geithner's honesty.

"Your statement today is a disappointment," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). "I don't think it's an honest and responsive appraisal of the conditions that we are facing today. You need to get out of the campaign mode."

Geithner declined to return the harsh rhetoric. But he insisted the Obama administration deserves credit for responding to a historic crisis.

"You have not seen a government move this quickly to address a crisis of this magnitude ever before," said Sec. Geithner. "Remember, it's been roughly six weeks since I took office."

Come Thursday the president is expected to roll out new rules on how states, including California, will be allowed to spend stimulus funds they are receiving, and there will be an emphasis on cost-effectiveness and transparency.