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Summers Defends Treasury Secretary Geithner's Stress Testing

4732106Speaking at the Brookings Institute today, Lawrence Summers, Director of the White House National Economic Council, said that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is dealing with the economic crisis in a "difficult and courageous way."

"The easy thing to do would be to lay out a nine point plan with the illusion of specificity and a sense of certainty of what the future would bring," Summers said. "We saw a half a dozen from the previous administration....it's just that they were different each month."

Summers, a former Treasury Secretary himself, continued, "Our approach is based on deeds and not words." He said that the Obama administration's approach is based on laying out a framework and recognizing the complexity of the problems, such as the inter-linkage between the toxic assets of the banks and capital markets.

"It would be tempting to rush into action to meet a chorus of questions.... But I don't see how anyone could observe what is happening in calendar years 2007 and 2008 and judge, design or implement policy that bores in on the major financial institutions without feeling the need to stress test them and evaluate the current situation in comprehensive way," Summers said.

He suggested that the stress testing of banks continue and predicted that the "wisdom of the approach will be clear some time from now."

Summers also noted that more optimism and confidence is needed to help overcome the current crisis. In any case, it will months if not years before it's clear whether the approach to solving the economic problems by Mr. Obama's team of economists can be judged as wise or ill-advised.

Summers' comments came during a question-and-answer session that followed a speech in which he laid out what he sees as the reasons for the economic crisis and then defended the administration's plans to turn the tide. Click here to read more about what he had to say.

Also, to catch more of Summers, check out CBS' Face The Nation this Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET (8:30 a.m. PT) where he will be interviewed by Bob Schieffer.

Daniel Farber is editor-in-chief of CBSNews.com.