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Friday July 29, 2011 | 12:07 PM

Sen. Olympia Snowe has offered up a bit of an, “I told you so” to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in response to this morning’s news about anemic economic growth for the second quarter.

The Maine Republican said that her comments Feb. 16 in an exchange with Geithner during a Senate hearing have been born out, and she poked at Geithner’s characterization then that her comments were “a little dark and pessimistic” when it came to the state of the economic recovery.

“The figures reflected in today’s GDP release are incredibly troubling and indicative of the grievous condition of our economy. While partisan rancor over how to solve the debt crisis continues, our economy is struggling to recover. Instead of working constructively to solve our long-term debt issue, some in Congress and the Administration refuse to take steps necessary to help small business job creators. In the first six months of this year, the Senate has done nothing to focus on the economy. For the whole month of July the Senate has literally done nothing. I have repeatedly called for regulatory relief for small businesses because the effect would be job creation. A majority of the Senate is on record in support of my regulatory reform bill. Procedural hurdles should be lifted immediately, the bill should be taken up, passed and sent to the President so we can send some positive sign to job creators.

“As I asked Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on February 16th this year, I ask again what is the plan for creating jobs?” Snowe said in a statement this morning. “Too many families are rightly concerned about their financial future, unemployment is taking a real toll on our nation, and our economy is desperate for relief. Secretary Geithner called my outlook ‘dark and pessimistic’ but as I told him then, I would tell him again today, policymakers must put a laser focus on jobs, jobs, jobs because that’s what our country needs to pull out of this economic downward spiral.” 

But in the exchange, Geithner went on the attack, too. He said acknowledged that there were economic challenges still aplenty, including too high unemployment, but told Snowe then that the Obama administration had proposed a number of steps to keep the economic recovery rolling, including business tax breaks and efforts to reduce the deficit and increase trade and exports. Geithner charged that Congress was failing to agree on substantive legislative changes that were needed to enact plans to aid the economy, and rejected Snowe’s assertion that it was Obama’s lack of leadership that was responsible for inaction in Washington.

The White House can propose, but on many fronts it is up to Congress to act to pass legislation, Geithner said, in a bit of unintended foreshadowing of the current debt ceiling impasse.

The exchange seemed to end in a standoff of its own, with neither Snowe nor Geithner backing down.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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