Business/Economy
12:20 am
Fri March 9, 2012

Geithner Tells Dallas Economy's Improving

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the economy is much stronger than just a few years ago, but tax reform is needed for sustained growth. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports some in the energy industry who attended Geithner’s Dallas appearance disagree with the Secretary.

In front of several hundred Dallas Chamber of Commerce members, Treasury Secretary Geithner said his most important task is improving the economy. He said that means reforming the tax structure without sacrificing military strength or health and retirement security for seniors.

Geithner: We don’t think we can do that as a nation without some modest increase in the effective tax rate paid by the most fortunate Americans.

Geithner said that means raising taxes for the country’s two percent of the highest income earners while preserving cuts for middle-class Americans. He said the Obama Administration also wants to reduce overall corporate taxes from 35 percent to 28 percent. In exchange, some business tax loopholes would disappear. Retired oil and gas man Ross Brannian expects big Texas energy giants will fight back.

Brannian: Oil companies of course like their deductions. And are saying that any increase will eliminate jobs.

Accountant Glenn Stinchcomb isn’t convinced Geithner’s plans will work:

Glenn Stinchcomb, CPA, retired. If you invest in oil and gas, you have a big investment there and it takes a long time to the get the return on it. But you’re paying the tax on the return. Many times, you don’t get the deductions that need to be there to make it more level for a long range benefit.

Geithner says there is actually bipartisan support for much of what he hopes to do. But the Congressional votes may not be there in this election year.

Geithner: We have an economy that is gradually getting stronger, its broad based. We have a lot of risks still. The biggest risk we face, still, is politics that get in the way of sensible, pragmatic creative economic solutions for the economy. That’s important, not just for the long term, but it’s very important as we look ahead at the end of the year.

Geithner says Congress needs to act, and soon. But he’s just not sure it will.