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Treasury Secretary Geithner reaffirms he won't stay if Obama wins

September 25, 2012|By Jim Puzzanghera
  • Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner participates in a moderated conversation on the state of the U.S. and global economies at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner participates in a moderated conversation… (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles…)

WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner reiterated Tuesday that he won't stay in the job if President Obama wins a second term in November.

Asked at the Clinton Global Initiative if the excitement of an anticipated stronger economic recovery would encourage him to remain in the job, Geithner said it wouldn't.

"I’ve had a lot of excitement in my job, more than my share," he told interviewer Charlie Rose. "But I think the president ... should have a chance, and will have a chance, to have somebody excellent and capable come in and help him with those challenges."

Geithner was a key government player in dealing with the financial crisis and its aftermath, becoming a lightning rod for critics of the financial system bailouts. He was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2008 and then became Treasury secretary in early 2009.

Many pundits thought he might be the first Obama Cabinet secretary to step down after a shaky start, including a rough confirmation process sparked by personal tax problems. But Geithner emerged as a key Obama advisor and is the last remaining member of the president's original economic team.

Geithner reportedly considered stepping down after the administration's battle with congressional  Republicans over increasing the national debt ceiling in mid-2011. But he committed to remain in the job through the end of Obama's first term.

Geithner said in January that he was "pretty confident" Obama would not ask him to stay for a second term. It's rare for Cabinet secretaries to serve more than one term.

"If you're a human being, you don't want to do these things forever," Geithner told the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in July.

Speculation has already begun in Washington about who would replace him if Obama wins reelection.

Geithner said he was not likely to write a book after leaving office.

"I'm not really the type to sit alone at a desk and write. It's not really my thing," he said.

Rose noted that one reason to write a book is to prevent other people from telling his story.

"A lot of people are telling my story," Geithner said, laughing.

He was referring to sharp criticism of him in books by Neil Barofsky, the former special inspector general for the $700-billion bailout fund, and by Sheila Bair, the former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Bair's book, titled "Bull by the Horns," was released Tuesday. In it, she described a contentious relationship with Geithner.

She said it felt "like a punch in the gut" when Obama chose Geithner to be Treasury secretary.

"I did not understand how someone who had campaigned on a 'change' agenda could appoint someone who had been so involved in contributing to the financial mess that had gotten Obama elected," Bair wrote.

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