- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 10, 2009

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told a congressional panel Thursday that the nation’s economy is in better position now than earlier this year to emerge from the recession, but cautioned that a full recovery will not happen anytime soon.

“It will take a while to get through this, and it will take us longer because we’re going to do it right,” Mr. Geithner said during an afternoon hearing of the Congressional Oversight Panel that monitors the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Mr. Geithner projected an upbeat tone, saying that the administration’s handling of TARP, originally established under the George W. Bush administration, helped pull the economy “back from the edge of the abyss.”

But Mr. Geithner’s testimony was meet with skepticism by some members of the panel, which a day earlier released its latest monthly report on TARP that criticized Treasury’s handling of spending $81 billion in TARP funds to rescue Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co.

Panel member Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Texas Republican, a strong TARP critic, said the program was intended to bail out troubled financial institutions, not failing Michigan automakers.

“Is ATT a financial institution? Is American Airlines a financial institution?” Mr. Hensarling said. “Who will you bail out [next], and who will you not bail out?”

The Treasury secretary responded that he doesn’t expect the program to be expanded “beyond the scope of the actions we’ve taken.”

Mr. Geithner added that the administration is starting to unwind a number of the transactions with bailed-out financial institutions first implemented last autumn in the wake of the financial crisis and expects to receive a further $50 billion in repayments from banks over the next 18 months.