Geithner Says Obama Won’t Ask Him to Remain Past First Term

Timothy Geithner
Timothy Geithner, treasury secretary, at the session of the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue (S&ED) in Washington on May 9, 2011. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

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

“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,” Geithner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina. “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, including overseeing bailouts of automakers General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, which have since emerged from bankruptcy. Before joining the administration in 2009, Geithner was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, playing a key role in the government’s rescue packages for banks such as Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp.

In the interview, Geithner said he would do “something else” after leaving the Treasury Department, 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.

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.

‘Budget Hawk’

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 Obama’s commission that drafted a plan to reduce the federal government’s debt.

Geithner 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.


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. “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. And I am very confident that these reforms will make our financial system a stronger financial system.”

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.

The U.S. automobile industry is reviving after the Obama administration helped push what ended up as an $82 billion bailout. President George W. Bush also supported aid for the industry as he was leaving office in late 2008.

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.” Manufacturing can play “a broader role” in the economy, he said.

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 is due to arrive today in Davos, Switzerland, for the 42nd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, his sixth trip to the continent since September.

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

Geithner last visited North Carolina in October when he spoke at a Corning Inc. 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 defeated Republican rival John McCain by 14,000 votes of almost 4.3 million ballots cast.

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