President Barack Obama finds himself in another challenging position as his top economic adviser, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, announced his planned departure by end of January before the debt ceiling deal is finalized.
Obama was able to convince Geithner to stay in June 2011 when the Treasury secretary wanted to resume his life outside government. His presence immensely helped Obama during his negotiations with the Congress over raising the federal debt ceiling. This time, however, Geithner has told White House officials that he will go ahead with his plan to leave the administration, whether the deal on the debt ceiling is in place or not.
His departure would intensify the pressure on the president over not just naming a new Treasury secretary but also in his efforts to close the debt ceiling deal. A likely name to fill in the vacated position by Geithner is White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew.
“The confirmation process will be nasty regardless as it will be a referendum on Obama’s economic and deficit plans,” said Chris Krueger, a policy analyst with Guggenheim Partners.
The 51-year-old retiring secretary was the only remaining member of Obama’s original economic team and was a key player in the tax-payer funded bailouts during 2008 financial crisis. According to people who answered only on the condition of anonymity, the president may hire a Wall Street executive as deputy Treasury secretary given Lew’s thin experience in the financial markets.