Geithner Says Obama Won’t Ask Him to Lead Treasury if He Wins Re-Election

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, the last remaining member of the Obama administration’s original economic team, said he doesn’t expect the president to ask him to stay in office if re-elected.

“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,” Geithner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.”

Geithner, 50, has led President Barack Obama’s efforts to pull the U.S. economy out of the worst recession since World War II. Before joining the administration in 2009, Geithner was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, playing a key role in the U.S. government’s bailouts of banks including Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC), and automakers General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

In the Bloomberg TV interview, Geithner said he would do “something else” after leaving the Treasury, without specifying what that would be. In August, an administration official said Geithner would stay in his job at least through this year’s presidential election.

Bowles, Conrad

Erskine Bowles, chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, and Democratic Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota could be among the potential candidates to succeed Geithner, said Mark Calabria, director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute in Washington.

Conrad, 63, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee who said a year ago he won’t seek another term, is “a serious budget hawk on the left, well-liked and respected,” Calabria said.

Bowles, 66, is the former co-leader of President Obama’s commission that drafted a plan to reduce the federal government’s debt.

Geithner had told White House officials earlier last year that he was considering leaving after negotiations on raising the nation’s debt limit were completed. An agreement was signed into law by Obama in August.

The Treasury secretary said in June that his son would be returning to New York to finish high school, and that “I’m going to be commuting for a while.”

Geithner is the last remaining member of Obama’s original economic team after the departures of advisers including National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, and Austan Goolsbee, who was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers and later replaced Christina Romer as chairman.

Dodd-Frank

Geithner also said in the Bloomberg TV interview he wasn’t concerned about Wall Street complaints over the Dodd-Frank Act’s financial overhaul and regulation.

“I would not worry too much about them,” Geithner said in the interview in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I would worry more about the basic confidence of Americans that they’re going to face more opportunities, more likely to find a job, keep a job, save for college, save for a dignified retirement.”

Geithner said that “no industry likes reforms that change the way we do business. But we’re doing that because we have to protect the economy from ever facing again the type of crisis we saw.”

The unemployment rate in December dropped to 8.5 percent, almost a three-year low, and employers expanded payrolls by 200,000, twice the rate of the previous month and an indication that the job market is gaining momentum.

Investing, Manufacturing

Geithner said he’s confident the administration, working with Congress, can design changes in the corporate tax system to “improve the incentives for investing, make manufacturing stronger.”

On Europe, Geithner said leaders there are “making some progress. They got a lot of work to do.” He said he tells European leaders that they need to “put in place a stronger, more credible firewall.”

Geithner was scheduled to travel from North Carolina to Davos, Switzerland, tonight for the 42nd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, his sixth trip to the continent since September. Germany, Europe’s dominant economic power, signaled on Jan. 23 that it might back an increase in the region’s overall rescue capacity to 750 billion euros ($983 billion) from 500 billion euros.

He also spoke at an event held by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce in North Carolina today. Geithner visited the state to tour a Siemens AG (SIE) energy plant and promote investments in manufacturing and technologies to create jobs.

Geithner last visited North Carolina in October when he spoke at a Corning Inc. (GLW) factory and touted the president’s jobs bill that later stalled in Congress.

North Carolina was one of two Southern states -- the other was Virginia -- that swung for Obama in 2008 after decades of voting for Republican presidential candidates. Obama edged Republican rival John McCain by 14,000 votes of almost 4.3 million ballots cast.

To contact the reporters on this story: Cheyenne Hopkins in Washington at chopkins19@bloomberg.net; Trish Regan in New York at tregan8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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