July 14, 2024

Geithner Considers Leaving Treasury Job

WASHINGTON – Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is considering leaving the Obama administration after a deal is reached to reduce the federal deficit, two officials familiar with his thinking said Wednesday.

Mr. Geithner has not made a decision, this official said, and he would not leave before President Obama strikes deal with Congress averting a possible default on the national debt. But he is being guided in part by family considerations, this official said. His son has opted to finish high school in New York.

Bloomberg News first reported that Mr. Geithner, who will turn 50 in August, was weighing his departure. The White House and Treasury declined to comment on the report.

But earlier in the day in Chicago, at a conference organized by former President Bill Clinton, Mr. Geithner said he planned to be in his job “for the foreseeable future.”

“I live for this work, it’s the only work I’ve done, and I believe in it,” Mr. Geithner said in answer to a question from Mr. Clinton about his career plans. “I’m going to be doing it for the foreseeable future.”

Mr. Geithner said his son had decided to attend his final year of high school in New York, which meant that he would be commuting between Washington and New York for a while. Officials said family issues were weighing on Mr. Geithner, as well as the recognition that there was a window of opportunity for him to leave once a deal averting a debt crisis was reached.

If Mr. Geithner does exit later this year, he would be the last member of Mr. Obama’s economic brain trust to leave the administration, after two-and-a-half years of turmoil, during which the White House confronted a financial crisis, a historic recession, near double-digit unemployment, and a recovery that has yet to gain traction. Before coming to the Treasury, Mr. Geithner was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York where he played a leading role in the bailouts of several financial institutions in 2008.

Austan Goolsbee, one of Mr. Obama’s chief economic advisers, recently announced he would return to his teaching post at the University of Chicago. Lawrence H. Summers, a former Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration, and a top Obama adviser, left late last year for Harvard, while Christina Roemer, Mr. Obama’s first head of the Council of Economic Advisers, returned last summer to the University of California at Berkeley.

Of all these departures, Mr. Geithner’s would have arguably have the greatest impact. He has become one of the president’s closest and most trusted counselors, attending his daily briefings and coordinating the White House’s strategy on a range of crucial issues, from financial reform to pressuring China on its currency.

The job of Treasury secretary increasingly demands a background in finance, to advise the president on the government’s financial challenges and to shape federal oversight of the financial industry.

Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to President Clinton and co-chairman of President Obama’s deficit commission, commands respect in Democratic policy circles. So does Roger Altman, an investment banker and former deputy Treasury secretary in the Clinton years. Two current officials regarded as credible candidates are Janet Yellen, the vice chair of the Federal Reserve, and Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, who previously served as a lieutenant to Mr. Geithner. Whomever is chosen, the prospect is good that there will be a contentious confirmation hearing in the Senate as the country heads into a presidential election year and especially so if the economy remains sluggish. 

Binyamin Appelbaum contributed reporting.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=28845b4a7b78dbd40d3a2e8d6bf0d7d8

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