Senior House Dems stand by Obama economic team

Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the chairman of the National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers, should stay in their jobs.

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“I think that they should stay. At this point in time, you don’t want to send uncertain signals,” Van Hollen, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told reporters on a conference call.

Levin, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Geithner and Summers should not resign and that Boehner’s call was “an effort in a few words to obscure the lack of a Republican plan and their standing in the doorway.”

Republicans, Levin said, “have been a blockade” to Democratic efforts to spur the economy.

Although they rejected Boehner’s suggestion, Van Hollen and Levin stopped short of a full-throated endorsement for Geithner and Summers, reflecting the fact that both have come under criticism from Democrats as well as Republicans.

In a hard-hitting speech in Cleveland, Boehner criticized Obama’s economic team as lacking “real-world, hands-on experience.” He said that while ousting Geithner and Summers was not a substitute for creating jobs, “we do not have the luxury of waiting months for the president to pick scapegoats for his failing ‘stimulus’ policies.”

Van Hollen and Levin assailed Boehner’s speech more broadly, particularly his call for an extension of tax cuts for the wealthy and a suspension of stimulus contracts. “It calls for fiscally reckless policies that will destabilize the economy and kill the nascent job creation that is going on now,” Van Hollen said.