WASHINGTON — U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned Republicans that they risk helping to tip the country into recession by failing to back President Barack Obama's jobs bill late Tuesday.
Speaking just before Republican senators joined with Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson and Jon Tester to vote against the $447 billion plan, Geithner launched an uncharacteristically partisan attack on Obama's political foes.
Asked during an interview with Bloomberg Television whether Republicans were raising the risk of another recession by standing in the way of the bill, Geithner responded: "Absolutely."
"If Congress does not act, it will be because Republicans decided they did not want to do anything to help the economy," he said.
"Growth will be weaker... people will be out of work.
If the bill is not passed, he added, "We will put off the important challenges."
"That is not something we should do."
Obama has spent weeks demanding that Congress pass a full version of a bill designed to boost growth, cut the unemployment rate of 9.1 percent and shield the fragile US recovery from the threat of European debt contagion.
The measure was expected to fail during a vote late Tuesday thanks to opposition from Republicans, who labelled the bill the "second stimulus."
“The truth of the matter is, most Democrats know just as well as I do that passing another stimulus and tax hike is a lousy idea — which is why the president is having such a hard time convincing many Democrats to vote for it,” Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said before the vote.
Senior White House officials said they planned to break the legislation into smaller, less-controversial bills.
With additional reporting by Eric W. Dolan