Geithner has told the White House he will wait until the conclusion of talks with Congress over the nation’s debt before deciding whether to leave, according to the people familiar with the matter.
An administration official said Geithner recognizes the conclusion of these negotiations could provide a “window” for him to leave. Another official at the Treasury Department said Geithner doesn’t plan to make any decisions while he is focused on striking a deal with lawmakers to reduce the deficit and raise the federal limit on borrowing, which he has said must happen by Aug. 2 to avert a catastrophic default.
These two officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing Geithner’s private deliberations.
When asked about his career plans late Thursday, Geithner said at a conference in Chicago that “I’m going to be doing this for the foreseeable future.”
But he acknowledged that family concerns were weighing on him. Geithner said his family was moving back to New York, where his son would finish high school. Geithner said he would commute to Washington.
“I’ve never had a real job,” Geithner told his interviewer, former president Bill Clinton. “I’ve only worked in public service. I live for this work.”
When discussing his future in other settings, Geithner has said he would be ready to leave the administration as soon as the president would allow him and a successor could be identified, according to a person familiar with the matter.
A departure would come at a sensitive time for Obama. The president would have to find a replacement in a highly charged political environment. The White House has been slow to nominate senior financial policymakers, and congressional Republicans have blocked several top nominees.
If Geithner left this summer, he also would be leaving in the hands of his successor critical matters such as the nation’s housing policy, the future of mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the design of regulations overseeing large financial firms.
Geithner is the last remaining member of the president’s original economic team. His departure would follow the recent announced exit of Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. And it would bring new emphasis to National Economic Council director Gene Sperling, a former Treasury counselor who is reprising a role he held in the Clinton administration.
During his tenure, Geithner has continually won over Obama in contentious policy debates. He shaped the president’s response to the financial crisis, successfully arguing that the government should not seize struggling banks.