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Geithner may leave White House soon: Reports

Last updated on: July 1, 2011 12:19 IST

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Lalit K Jha in Washington

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has been among President Barack Obama's trusted aides, has informed the White House about his plans to resign in August, media reports said on Friday, but Geithner himself insisted he planned to stay "for the foreseeable future".

Geithner, who this week headed the US delegation for the second India-US Economic and Financial Partnership, has been in the administration since its beginning, and has played frontal roles in coordinating the strategy on crucial issues like financial reform.

Hours after the news of his plans to resign in August was broken by multiple media outlets in washington, Geithner at an event in Chicago tried to douse the speculation by saying that he planned to stay in his job "for the foreseeable future".

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Image: US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
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Geithner, 49, said his son had decided to attend his final year of high school in New York, where he previously lived. This means the Treasury Secretary would be commuting between Washington and New York for a while.

"I live for this work, it's the only work I've done, and I believe in it," Geithner said when asked about his career plan by former President Bill Clinton at an event in Chicago.

"I'm going to be doing it for the foreseeable future," he said.

If Geithner resigns, he would be yet another addition to the series of top economic officials who have left the Obama Administration in recent times.

Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, would leave by the end of August to return to his job as a professor at the University of Chicago.

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Image: The north side of the US Treasury Building in Washington.
Photographs: William Philpott/Reuters
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Larry Summers, the first director of the National Economic Council; Christina Romer, who was Goolsbee's predecessor; Peter Orszag, the administration's first budget chief, and Jared Bernstein, who served as top economic adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden are among those who have left the Obama Administration.

"Of all these departures, Mr Geithner's would arguably have the greatest impact. He has become one of the president's closest and most trusted counselors, attending his daily briefings and coordinating the White House's strategy on crucial issues like financial reform and pressuring China on its currency," The New York Times said.

The Wall Street Journal said if Geithner leaves soon, it will be on the eve of the 2012 presidential and congressional elections, which will be focused largely on the economy, federal budget deficit and government spending.

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Image: Top L-R: Larry Summers, Christina Romer; Bottom L-R: Peter Orszag, Jared Bernstein.
Photographs: Reuters
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The Treasury Secretary is credited within the administration for leading the response to the financial crisis in 2009, but stubbornly high unemployment rates, persistent problems in the housing market and slow economic growth have dogged his tenure.

"Despite support within the White House, he never forged major alliances on Capitol Hill, which has left him open to criticism from Democrats and Republicans," it 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," The Washington Post said quoting a Treasury official.

"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," the daily said.


Image: Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner gestures at the Senate Finance Committee.
Photographs: Larry Downing/Reuters
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