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Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Baucus, and members of the Finance
Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify here today. I am
honored that President Bush has nominated me to serve as the 74th
Secretary of the Treasury, following the distinguished leadership of
Secretary John Snow. And I appreciate the time members of this
Committee have taken to meet with me and consider my nomination.
Frequent communication between the Treasury Department and this
committee is of vital importance, and if confirmed I look forward to
building on the important dialogue that we have already begun.
I am also grateful to my family for supporting my decision to pursue
The Treasury Department has a critical role to play in helping to set
the direction of the U.S. and global economy – a role that reaches
back to America's founding. If confirmed, I will strive to carry
forward the Treasury Department's rich legacy.
I have admired the work of the Treasury Department throughout my
32-year career in finance – and particularly during the last eight
years, when I have led a global financial institution. As the steward
of the U.S. economic and financial systems, the Treasury has helped
lay the groundwork for the American economy to become a model of
strength, flexibility, dynamism and resiliency.
This is a system that generates growth, creates jobs and wealth,
rewards initiative, and fosters innovation. It is also a system that
offers considerable social and economic mobility. We must never take
this for granted, and we cannot allow Americans to lose faith in the
benefits our system offers. America is the land of opportunity. We
need to be vigilant in ensuring that each and every American has the
opportunity to acquire the skills to compete, and to see those skills
rewarded in the marketplace.
One way we can do this is to maintain a macroeconomic climate that
enables workers, families, businesses – both small and large – to
thrive. That calls for spending discipline and predictable taxation,
combined with prudent regulation.
If confirmed, I will focus intensely on how the United States can
maintain and strengthen our competitive position. As a product of a
mid-sized town in Illinois, I will of course always remember Chairman
Grassley's succinct description of the Treasury secretary's role: "to
understand how tax policy, capital markets, international trade, and
currency policy affect Main Street USA."
As we work to promote greater economic opportunity for the American
people, we must always remember that the American economy is deeply
integrated with the global economy. That brings challenges, but even
greater opportunities. While maintaining confidence in our ability to
compete throughout the world, we must be prepared to embrace the
change that will contribute to our long-term prosperity. Open markets
help to boost productivity and drive America's economic growth, which
in turn creates new and better jobs for American families. It's also
true that the global integration of economies and markets holds the
promise of a more prosperous and secure world. In my extensive travels
throughout the world, I've seen countless examples of the benefits of
If confirmed, I will be active in affirming America's leadership role
in the global economy, where we must continue to be a constructive and
stabilizing force. I also look forward to working alongside other
colleagues in the Cabinet to advocate policies and actions which
provide open and level markets for U.S. investment and for U.S.
To close, I will briefly outline some of the steps that could be taken
to achieve a stronger and more competitive U.S. economy:
* Addressing the long-term unfunded obligations of Social Security
and Medicare that threaten to unfairly burden future generations.
* Keeping taxes low and collecting them in a simpler and fairer
manner that does not distort economic decision-making.
* Expanding opportunities for American workers, farmers, and
businesses – big and small – to compete on a level playing field
with the rest of the world.
* Maintaining and enhancing the flexibility of our capital and labor
markets, and preventing creeping regulatory expansion from driving
jobs and capital overseas.
* Finally, the U.S. economy will be stronger if we can continue to
foster an entrepreneurial spirit and culture which generates
innovation, risk-taking, and productivity growth that raises
living standards to keep America the economic envy of the world.
If confirmed, I look forward to frequent consultation with members of
this Committee to advance these important ideas. And if confirmed, I
also look forward to working with the Treasury Department's select
corps of professionals, who play a critical role in the stability and
vitality of the U.S. economy.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.