February 02,2010

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Baucus, Geithner Discuss Job-Creation Initiatives in President’s Budget

Baucus says to Geithner: “Creating jobs must be our top priority”

Washington, DC – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) convened a hearing today with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to discuss President Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget proposals. Baucus focused most closely during the hearing on proposals included in the budget to spur job creation. Baucus expressed support for the President’s jobs initiatives, including the Job Creation Tax Credit, to encourage businesses to hire American workers.

“Creating jobs has to be a top priority and I hope to work with my Senate colleagues to meet that goal,” Baucus said. “Yesterday, the President put forth some strong job-creation proposals – like a tax cut for small businesses that hire new workers – and I’m fully committed to working immediately on a jobs agenda that meets those goals.”

Baucus noted that two Members of the Committee, Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), are already hard at work on a bipartisan proposal similar to the Job Creation Tax Credit contained in the President’s budget.

While he expressed support for the budget initiatives to bolster our economy, Baucus also pressed the Secretary on the importance of striking the right balance between short-term spending to create jobs and spur the economy and long-term deficit reduction to ensure fiscal sustainability.

“We can’t afford the luxury of making mistakes. We’ve got to get this right and that means digging deep and asking tough questions to get the data we need to ensure we are striking the right balance,” Baucus said to Geithner.

As part of the jobs agenda, Baucus also stressed the urgent need to increase small business lending and ensure American entrepreneurs have access to the capital they need to succeed and grow. Baucus has called for the Treasury Department to use funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a program created in the fall of 2008 to help stabilize the economy, to increase lending to small businesses through Community Development Financial Institutions. These institutions form a network of non-profit lenders that serve local communities and provide capital to small businesses. Baucus questioned the Secretary for details on the Administration’s proposal to use $30 billion in TARP funds to provide banks with added capital for lending and emphad the need to ensure additional capital actually results in increased lending for small businesses.

Baucus and Geithner also discussed the effect of health care reform legislation on job creation and deficit reduction. Geithner agreed that lowering health care costs is essential to creating long-term fiscal sustainability.

“We face a daunting problem for our fiscal policy over the long run, not just the next 10 years. Budget analysts have made it clear that rising health care costs are a primary cause of this explosion. Healthcare spending is growing faster than wages and our economy. The solution to this problem is to enact comprehensive health care reform that includes serious cost containment. And that is exactly what we are trying to do,” Baucus said. “According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the Senate-passed health care bill would reduce deficits by $132 billion during the next 10 years. And it would cut deficits by $650 billion to $1.3 trillion during the second 10 years. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both the House and the Senate to enact comprehensive health care reform.”

The Finance Committee will convene a hearing tomorrow with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to examine the health care proposals in the President’s budget.