White House Tries To Sell Bank Bailout The Obama administration is trying to put a public face on the credit crunch in order to build support for a potentially costly bank rescue. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stresses that the government isn't trying to help banks for their own sake — but to get credit flowing to businesses and families.
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White House Tries To Sell Bank Bailout

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White House Tries To Sell Bank Bailout

White House Tries To Sell Bank Bailout

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JACKI LYDEN, Host:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner drew the outline for the bank rescue plan earlier this week, but that sketch was widely panned as lacking detail. Today, he made his debut on the world stage, speaking at a meeting of the group of southern finance ministers in Rome.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER: I think it's important to the world economy as a whole that the major economy is together, move to put in place as forceful a package of fiscal actions as they can to help get recovery back.

LYDEN: First, back to the White House, where, as NPR's Scott Horsley reports, aides are crafting a grassroots sales pitch for the banking plan.

SCOTT HORSLEY: President Obama won't get a lot of time to celebrate passage of the economic stimulus bill, which has consumed much of his not quite four weeks in office. Speaking to a group of business leaders at the White House Friday, Mr. Obama said the stimulus was only the beginning of what he called a long and difficult process to turn the economy around.

BARACK OBAMA: To truly address this crisis, we will also need to address the crisis in our financial sector to get credit flowing again to families and businesses.

HORSLEY: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made the same point to the Senate Banking Committee. While the stimulus bill may be helpful at creating jobs temporarily, Geithner said a lasting recovery will depend on restoring the flow of credit.

GEITHNER: Without credit, economies cannot grow at their potential. And right now, critical parts of our financial system are damaged.

HORSLEY: The idea is to back up the point Secretary Geithner tried to make in his Senate testimony: that the government isn't spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the banking system simply because it likes bankers.

GEITHNER: When our government provides support to banks, it is not for the benefit of banks. It is for the businesses and families who depend on banks. And it's for the benefit of the country.

HORSLEY: Finance professor, Campbell Harvey, of Duke University, recently surveyed chief financial officers around the country and found almost nine out of 10 companies are passing up valuable opportunities because they simply can't get funding. Harvey says that's making it harder for the country to pull out of the recession.

CAMPBELL HARVEY: We need to break the spiral somehow. And I don't think that the spiral can be broken without having a viable financial sector and credit being available to finance good projects. Those projects are not being financed right now.

HORSLEY: Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House.

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