As prepared for delivery
WASHINGTON - Thank
you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Hatch, and Members of the Committee for
welcoming me. It is a privilege to be
considered by this Committee as the President’s nominee to be the Secretary of
I want to thank Senator Schumer and Senator Domenici for their
gracious comments. I have had the great
fortune to work with both of them over many years, and I am honored they are
here this morning.
I am especially thankful to my wife, Ruth, my daughter,
Shoshi, my son, Danny, his wife, Zahava, and my grandchildren. Public life demands much from our families, and
I deeply appreciate their support and sacrifice over many years of long days
and missed family time.
And while my parents are only with me in spirit today, I
know I am sitting here because they nurtured in me lasting values and an enduring
commitment to serve our country.
I am grateful to President Obama for asking me to lead the
Treasury Department. It has been my
honor to serve in his cabinet and as his chief of staff, and I am humbled by
his continued faith in me.
Finally, I want to thank the Members of this Committee for meeting
with me over the last several weeks and sharing your insights. The Finance Committee plays a singular role
in defining our nation’s tax, trade, health care, and Social Security policies.
And with a long history of cooperation
and collaboration, this Committee stands out as a clear example of how
bipartisanship can thrive and produce real results for all Americans. I pledge that if confirmed, I will maintain
frequent consultation with Members of this Committee in accordance with the
spirit of respect and understanding that has been this Committee’s
Forging bipartisan consensus is not an abstract idea for
me. It is the fundamental thread that spans
my professional life. Early in my career,
the great Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. was a mentor to me. And by asking me to take part in the
negotiations that led to the historic agreement with President Reagan to save
Social Security, he allowed me to gain a deep understanding of what could be
accomplished through bipartisan cooperation.
Working across the aisle while serving under President
Clinton, I helped negotiate the groundbreaking agreement with Congress to
balance the federal budget. And as
budget director, I oversaw three budget surpluses in a row even as we pursued
policies to speed economic growth and create jobs.
My experience in leadership positions outside government has
proven that working collaboratively to solve problems is a universal
necessity. At New York University, the
largest private university in the country, I was responsible for helping to
forge the tough choices to make sure the university would continue to make critical
strides within the constraints of limited resources and growing demands. During my time at Citi, I was part of the
senior management team trying to drive organizational change at one of our
nation’s largest banks.
With my return to public service in this Administration, building
partnerships has been central to getting things done. At the State Department, I worked alongside
Secretary Clinton to promote our country’s national security and international
economic policies around the globe. Under
her direction, America’s leadership abroad was reinvigorated through diplomacy
and engagement, and diplomatic missions were transformed to meet the needs of
At the Office of Management and Budget, pursuing sound fiscal
policy required transcending politics and making tough calls. We eliminated and cut programs, and we worked
with Democrats and Republicans to pass the Budget Control Act, which has
reduced federal discretionary spending to historically low levels.
Finally, as the White House Chief of Staff, I have had the
opportunity to work directly at the side of the President who has always
believed, as I do, that neither party has a monopoly on good ideas. The fact is, we do best for the American
people when we can find common ground to move our country forward. We saw that most recently when the
Administration and Congress acted together to protect the middle class from
sweeping tax increases that could have thrown our economy back into a recession.
What Has Been
Because of my experience, I approach the challenges that lie
ahead with a clear understanding of their complexity and significance. That experience has also given me a profound
respect for Secretary Geithner and for the women and men of the Treasury
Department whose remarkable record of accomplishment I would like to
When President Obama came into office, the economic conditions
were the worst our nation has seen since the Great Depression. The President moved quickly to break the back
of the financial crisis and reignite growth, and because he, along with
Congress, responded with great speed and force, our economy is in better shape
Over the past 35 months, the private sector has created more
than 6 million new jobs. Taxpayer money that
saved the financial system has been mostly repaid. Rules are in place so that the financial
system is safer and taxpayers are not responsible if a big firm fails
again. The housing market is recovering,
and home values are stabilizing. We have
isolated Iran from the global financial system and established what is widely
regarded as the toughest sanctions regime in history. We have signed a series of trade agreements
to open up markets for American goods and level the playing field for American workers
and businesses. Our auto companies are
once again growing, innovating, and creating jobs. And we have made substantial progress
reducing our deficit in a balanced way.
More To Do
So we are in a better position today. But as we all know, the work to create a sounder
economy and a safer world remains unfinished.
Our top priority is to strengthen the recovery by fostering
private sector job creation and economic growth at a time when we must make
sure our economy remains resilient to headwinds from beyond our shores. That means making it easier to sell
American-made goods abroad and expand manufacturing in the United States. It means working with our partners around the
globe and through organizations like the G20 to bolster the international
financial system and promote global economic stability. It means moving forward on the work to
complete financial reform so that the system is less vulnerable to crisis, with
greater protections for investors and consumers. And it means reforming the tax system so
American businesses can thrive and remain competitive.
At the same time, we must put our nation back on a path of
fiscal sustainability. Over the past two
years, we have locked in $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction through spending
cuts and revenue increases. And we can
do even more to shrink the deficit over the next decade through a balanced mix
of spending reductions and tax reforms, and sensible reforms to Medicare that will
help the program stay sound in the future.
But even as we move forward with deficit reduction, we need
to make sure we leave sufficient room for critical investments in education,
research, and infrastructure that we need for our economy to grow and compete globally.
We also have to avoid doing anything to degrade
our national security or derail the economic recovery through abrupt moves in
the short term. That is why we cannot allow
the series of harmful automatic spending cuts known as the sequester to go into
effect on March 1. These cuts would impose
self-inflicted wounds to the recovery and put far too many jobs and businesses
In closing, I would like to make one final observation. In recent years, some have argued that
Washington is irrevocably broken. That
our government cannot tackle the nation’s most serious problems. That bipartisanship is a thing of the past. I disagree.
I have reached across the aisle to forge honorable
compromises my entire professional life. I have been involved in almost every major
bipartisan budget agreement over the last 30 years. In this chamber alone, the list of Majority
Leaders I have been privileged to work with includes Howard Baker, Bob Dole,
Robert Byrd, George Mitchell, Trent Lott, Bill Frist, Tom Daschle, and, of
course, Harry Reid. So I have seen and
learned a lot. And I can honestly say
that the things that divide Washington right now are not as insurmountable as
they might look.
The truth is, we all share the same goals. We want an economy that is expanding. We want a private sector that is robust. We want a vibrant job market that gives anybody
who works hard the chance to get ahead. We
want a financial system that helps families save and channels investment to
support innovation and entrepreneurs. We
want a strong housing market. We want a
global economy that is prosperous, inclusive, and secure. We want a vigorous manufacturing base and a
level playing field for American companies. And we want a government that lives within its
It is going to take a lot of hard work to achieve these
goals. We have plenty of obstacles
ahead. But when I think of what our nation
has been able to achieve since our founding, I have no doubt that we will work
together to find solutions to today’s challenges.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I am grateful to
you for considering my nomination, and I would be happy to answer any questions
you may have.