U.S. economic growth has gained some strength, but remains too slow, and it would benefit from passage of a package of job proposals that congressional Republicans have blocked, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Saturday.
Speaking at the conclusion of a Group of 20 meeting that focused on Europe's debt crisis, Geithner was lobbying for a last-ditch effort by Democrats to win passage of at least parts of a $447 billion jobs bill.
The bill was blocked by Senate Republicans last Tuesday, but President Barack Obama wants Congress to begin voting piece by piece on the proposals next week.
Geithner told a news conference that U.S. growth was somewhat stronger in the second half than earlier in the year when he said a hard fight over raising the debt limit had sapped business and consumer confidence.
He added that Europe's debt crisis -- which G-20 members are still struggling to get under control -- also had hurt U.S. growth and was slowing a recovery.
For these reasons, we have proposed in the United States a very substantial package of actions to strengthen growth and job creation, tied to reforms that would reduce our fiscal deficits to a sustainable position over the medium term, Geithner said.
In Washington on Saturday, Obama used a weekly radio address to paint Republicans as obstructionists impeding his drive to revive a slow-growing economy and lower high unemployment.
Geithner repeated that China could help restore faster global growth by letting its yuan currency rise faster, but said he had not seen comments made by China's Premier Wen Jiabao earlier, who said China's exchange rate would remain steady to protect its exporters.
Geithner suggested it would be in China's own interest to allow more rapid appreciation, which would tamp down inflation while helping the global economy to reach more balanced growth.
It's in the interests of the global economy for China to let the exchange rate appreciate more rapidly and more broadly in response to the upward pressure on the currency you are seeing now, Geithner said.
(Reporting by Glenn Somerville and Abhijit Neogy)