Earlier today, it was reported that Timothy P. Geithner has informed people that he “plans to leave the administration by the end of January, even if President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans haven’t reached an agreement to raise the debt ceiling.” Will this actually happen? Those unfamiliar with the Treasury Secretary’s attempts to leave his post in the past will say yes. He’s leaving, ship-shape. Those who’ve watched TPG try and fail to bust out of Washington for the last nineteen months, however, know better. More than likely, he’s not going anywhere and it’s not because deep down inside he doesn’t actually want to go home but because his bosses won’t let him. Witness, if you will, a small sampling of examples in which his requests have been denied, either directly (via someone laughing in his face) or indirectly (by giving those who’ve applied to replace him the wrong directions to their interview):
- August 3, 2011: “Mr. Obama and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, have been urging Mr. Geithner to stay, administration officials say, not only for continuity when the economy has weakened and to avoid an all-but-certain confirmation fight in the Senate over a successor, but also because Mr. Obama has developed a close rapport with Mr. Geithner…Especially in recent weeks, the issue has become a running joke, officials say: Mr. Geithner and Mr. Daley tease about the ankle bracelet that the White House makes him wear, or Mr. Geithner asks if Mr. Daley has yet read his resignation letter, to which Mr. Daley answers in unprintable language.”
- August 5, 2011: “President Barack Obama’s senior advisers are confident Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will remain in his job even though he hasn’t made his intentions public, an administration official said. Geithner met recently with Vice President Joe Biden and laid out his reasons for wanting to leave the post. Biden outlined why it was vital that Geithner remain, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made.”
- January 26, 2012: “Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, the last member of the Obama administration’s original economic team, said he doesn’t expect to remain in office if the president is re-elected. ‘He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,’ Geithner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina. ‘I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.’”
- October 2, 2012: “Mr. Geithner has made clear for more than a year that he plans to leave his post but has said he would remain until a successor is confirmed, should Mr. Obama win re-election.”
According to Bloomberg, Geithner is well-aware of the potential for getting sandbagged yet again, which is why he’s come up with a new, fool-proof approach: telling everyone he’s serious. Before there was room for flexibility but not this time. He’s really leaving. He means it. January 31, he’s out the door. Take this seriously because he’s really going. Throwing a Super Bowl party at the house this year and he’s not cancelling again.
After giving in to Obama’s previous entreaties to stay as long as needed, Geithner has indicated to White House officials and Wall Street executives that he is unlikely to change his departure plans this time, increasing pressure on the president to name his successor at Treasury, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss the private discussions.
And while we fully support Tim’s choices and believe that in most cases, he can do anything he sets his mind to, we’ve been burned a few too many times on this one and just don’t see it happening. But perhaps we’re wrong here? What say you, soothsayers of the group? We know he’s ready to go but will he be granted permission to get on that jet plane? Or is Joe Biden walking over to TG’s office as we speak to deliver a speech along the lines of, “Listen, hombre: I can’t do all the fucking work around here. So here’s how it’s gonna go, muchacho. You’re gonna sit the fuck down, shut the fuck up and move when I tell you to, partner. Capiche?”