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Congress refocuses on economy, Geithner

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

(Read caption) Sen. Jon Kyl (R) of Arizona grilled Geithner on his tax lapses – and his contention that the stimulus would be speedy.

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After all the festivity and feel-good of Tuesday's inauguration, Congress got right back to work Wednesday with tough questions for Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary-nominee.

His tax mistakes -- boneheaded though they were -- paled in comparison with the big worries about the economy. Even Democrats were tough on the nominee of the president they'd just lauded the day before.

Two of the senators' most pressing questions: How quickly would the stimulus be spent? How would banks be regulated after their disastrous entanglement with complex mortgage-backed securities?

"I am tired of these exotic instruments," said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) of Washington. "There's nothing exotic about what's happened to our economy."

She pressed Mr. Geithner repeatedly about reining in banking excesses through regulation. He declined to give any specifics, saying President Obama would be presenting a plan to Congress in a few weeks.

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