WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, the last remaining member of President Obama's original economic team, has made it clear he did not intend to stay in the high-pressure job for more than four years.
And now, with Obama set to be sworn in for a second term on Jan. 20, Geithner apparently wants to depart by the end of the month. The move, reported by Bloomberg News, would mean Geithner would not be around to finish negotiations with Congress on government spending cuts and an increase in the nation's debt limit.
Obama administration officials would not confirm the timing.
"Secretary Geithner has previously stated that he plans to be at Treasury until around the inauguration," a Treasury spokesperson said Friday. "We do not plan to make any further announcements about the timing of the secretary's departure until after his successor is named."
It's rare for top Cabinet officials to stay on the job for more than two years. Obama recently nominated Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And analysts expect Atty. Gen. Eric Holder to depart soon as well.
Geithner, 51, has been considering stepping down since mid-2011, following the divisive battle over raising the nation's debt limit. But with economic issues playing such a major role in the administration's agenda, he agreed to stay on through the November election.
Asked in September if he would remain on the job into a second term if Obama won reelection, Geithner said he wouldn't.
"I’ve had a lot of excitement in my job, more than my share," he told interviewer Charlie Rose during an appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative. "But I think the president ... should have a chance, and will have a chance, to have somebody excellent and capable come in and help him with those challenges."
Geithner has been a key player in the administration's negotiations with Congress over financial regulations, deficit reduction and spending issues. And he was present at key White House meetings between Obama and congressional leaders during the recent negotiations that led to this week's deal to avert most of the tax increases set to kick in at the beginning of the year.
And Geithner is unlikely to be involved when administration officials and congressional leaders gather to avert the next potential crisis looming at the end of February -- large across-the board spending cuts and the expiration of special Treasury measures to keep borrowing after the nation technically hit its debt limit on Dec. 31.
Speculation about who would replace Geithner has focused on White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew. Other names mentioned include former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, who co-chaired Obama's deficit reduction commission, and American Express Co. Chief Executive Kenneth Chenault.
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