Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has indicated to White House officials that he is thinking about leaving the administration after President Obama and Congress reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, according to reports.
Neither the White House nor Treasury disputed that Geithner is considering leaving office after the debt ceiling crisis is resolved. But officials stressed that no decision has been made.
The news of Geithner's possible departure was first reported by Bloomberg. Family considerations are reportedly behind the move, CNN reported, quoting a source close to the discussions.
While Geithner is focused on the debt talks, he recognizes that a rare window of opportunity for a graceful departure will open after their conclusion. However, he hasn’t made any decision, said an administration official, not authorized to speak publicly, on condition of anonymity.
The news sparked speculation about a number of possible candidates, including Sheila Bair, outgoing chairwoman of the FDIC; Roger Altman, former deputy Treasury Secretary under President Clinton; Erskine Bowles, a chief of staff to Clinton and co-chairman of Obama’s debt commission; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric; Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council; and Janet Yellen, vice chair of the Federal Reserve. Administration officials did not confirm that any officials were actually under consideration.
Speaking at an event in Chicago, Geithner did not flatly deny the rumors, but seemed to dismiss the reports that his exit was imminent.
"We have a lot of challenges as a country, and I'm going to be doing it for the foreseeable future," he said, according to a Reuters report.
If he does leave, Geithner would be the final member of Obama’s original economics team to do so. Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee announced earlier this month that he would be returning to the University of Chicago in early August. Geithner's and Goolsbee’s posts would be key vacancies for Obama to fill as he heads into the 2012 election season.
According to Bloomberg, the 49-year-old Geithner told associates he needs a break from government service. He has been dealing with turmoil on Wall Street for years, first as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and then as a member of the Obama administration.
George Condon, Stacy Kaper, and Tim Fernholz contributed