WASHINGTON (AP) — Timothy Geithner said Wednesday that he doesn’t expect to serve a second term as Treasury secretary. He said he doesn’t think President Barack Obama would ask him to remain if Obama won re-election.
“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,” Geithner said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another Treasury secretary.”
Geithner is the only remaining top official on Obama’s original economics team. He had considered leaving in August after the congressional battle over raising the debt limit was resolved.
Obama asked him to reconsider and remain in the Cabinet, and Geithner did. But the incident heightened expectations that Geithner would serve only through the 2012 election.
Asked for reaction to Geithner’s comments Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said, “In August, when the president asked Secretary Geithner to remain in his position, Secretary Geithner made it clear he intended to leave after the election and the president understood that decision.”
Geithner, who helped lead the administration’s response to the 2008 financial crisis, has been a frequent target of criticism in his three years at Treasury. Many accused him of siding too closely with Wall Street in the government bailout of the financial system.
As the administration’s highest-profile economic figure, Geithner been a lightning rod for criticism of its economic stewardship. Critics contend that government spending under Obama failed to keep unemployment from rising and gave the country record budget deficits.
But Geithner also received praise for his leadership in getting a sweeping financial overhaul through Congress and in the efforts he made to stabilize the financial system
Geithner’s supporters also argue that the Treasury secretary provided Obama with sound advice on how to restructure the financial system. They note, too, that he successfully managed the government’s $700 billion financial bailout to limit taxpayers’ losses.
In the interview Wednesday, Geithner offered no hints of what he might do after leaving the administration.
“I’m very fortunate,” he said. “I work with tremendously talented people, and this is one of the most important times in modern history to be in the world of economic policy and finance. And I work for a great president, who I believe in.”
It isn’t unusual for Cabinet secretaries to leave after just one term of a two-term presidency. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton both had three Treasury secretaries during their two terms in office.
The only Treasury secretary in recent history to serve more than four years was Nicholas Brady who served as Ronald Reagan’s third Treasury secretary. Brady then stayed to serve for all four years of the George H.W. Bush administration.