White House Said to Be Confident Geithner Will Stay at Treasury
Geithner met recently with Vice President Joe Biden and laid out his reasons for wanting to leave the post. Biden outlined why it was vital that Geithner remain, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made.
A departure by Geithner would represent another blow to an administration that confronts a weak economy, a declining stock market and uncertainty over how it will resolve controversy over the deficit.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index tumbled 4.8 percent yesterday and two-year Treasury yields plunged to a record low on signs the recovery is flagging. U.S. employers’ payrolls rose by 117,000 workers after a 46,000 increase in June that was more than originally estimated, according to Labor Department data released today. The S&P index fell 0.8 percent to 1,190.26 at 11:06 a.m. in New York today, while the two-year yield rose to 0.29 percent from 0.26 percent.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said in his daily news briefing yesterday that Geithner hasn’t made a decision yet.
“He has said he will be here for the foreseeable future,” Carney said, referring to previous public comments by the Treasury secretary. “That’s what he tells us.”
Group of Seven
Geithner has been engaged in recent discussions about events such as the Group of Seven meeting in France next month and efforts to overhaul the housing-finance system, another administration official said. Geithner hasn’t been delegating more authority than usual or given any indications that he is planning to leave, the official said.
Geithner, 49, previously signaled to White House officials that he was considering leaving the administration once Obama reached an agreement with Congress to raise the federal debt limit. Obama signed a bill raising the debt limit on Aug. 2.
The Treasury secretary is the last remaining member of Obama’s original economic team after the departures last year of advisers including National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers and Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag. Austan Goolsbee, who replaced Christina Romer as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, leaves today to return to the University of Chicago.
In an appearance this week on ABC television’s “Good Morning America” program, Geithner said he hadn’t made up his mind.
‘A Lot of Challenges’
“I haven’t made that decision yet,” Geithner said. “And, you know, we’ve got a lot of challenges, the president’s got a lot of challenges, and, you know, I got other pressures on me, too. But I’ll make that decision at the right moment.”
Geithner said on June 30 that his son would be returning to New York to finish high school, and that “I’m going to be commuting for a while.” Before joining the administration in January 2009, Geithner was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a post that put him at the center of the government’s response to the financial crisis of 2008.
“It’s pretty understandable why he would want to leave,” said Vincent Reinhart, who worked with Geithner as director of monetary affairs for the Federal Reserve Board. “It is a meat grinder of jobs -- both jobs -- through the hardest financial times in anybody’s memory.”
Still, Reinhart, now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that he expects Geithner to stay at his post.
“I think someone who has spent his life in public service has got to be sensitive to the George Marshall moment when the president of the United States calls you and says you really can’t leave,” Reinhart said. “I think it would be very hard for him to do it.”
Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said this week he hopes Geithner “stays on for the foreseeable future.” Because of Republican opposition to Obama administration nominees, “I’m not sure we’d get to a Treasury secretary confirmation,” Warner told MSNBC.
“If you want to vote against somebody, have at it, vote against them,” Warner said. “But don’t leave them in this limbo land.”
Jake Siewert, a Treasury counselor close to Geithner who worked on issues ranging from financial markets to media strategy, is leaving this month, he said in an e-mail yesterday. Siewert is returning to New York, where his family lives.
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