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Hatch To Geithner: Unfair To Blame Bush For Economic Crisis

UPDATED

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) made a bid to stand up to a growing sentiment that the Bush administration's policies were to blame for the current economic collapse.

Hatch said a number of Democrats have been "beating the drum" that the Obama administration has "inherited failed economic policies from the last administration."

While the economy was not consistently strong under President Bush, it was steady, Hatch said. He made his remarks during a meeting of the Senate Finance committee underway now, which is grilling Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on the budget.

"Isn't it a little unfair to blame all of this on the prior administration?" Hatch asked.

When Geithner began to answer that the crisis was caused by a failure of oversight of big financial institutions, Hatch interrupted, noting that, as president of the New York Fed -- Geithner's previous job -- he was an overseer.

"There were systematic failures in oversight," Geithner allowed.

"It's not fair to blame the prior administration for this crisis," Hatch said, upgrading his previous question to a statement.

Geithner said that the New York Fed was not given responsibility for overseeing investment banks, insurance companies, hedge funds and non-bank financial institutions that caused the crisis.

"You seem to be blaming us up here," Hatch said.

Geithner stammered that he wasn't blaming Congress, but before he could finish, Hatch interrupted, smiling: "I think you're right."

Geithner To Offshore Tax Havens: We're Coming For You

11:15 A.M.: Geithner said that he will return to Congress with tough plans to reduce international tax avoidance.

"It's not right to be able to evade taxes by offshore havens," said Geithner, who had his own tax problems during his confirmation, when it was discovered during his vetting process that he owed back taxes.

The Internal Revenue Service is within Treasury and Geithner said that IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman would bring a detailed set of proposals to Congress to ask for more authority in enforcement.

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  March 4, 2009; 12:11 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bush, Geithner, Obama, taxes  
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