President Barack Obama continued his shake up of the cabinet today with the announcement that current Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, would be leaving the position toward the end of January. The news was originally reported by Bloomberg earlier today.
The Secretary of the Treasury holds the second most important position in the cabinet, and is fifth in line to succeed to the Presidency. Geithners tenure in the position has been filled with attempts to turn the US economy around. He is the only remaining member of Barack Obama's original economic team still in place.
According to the Bloomberg article, Geithner will leave the position before the close of the debt ceiling deal. The most important responsibility of the Department of the Treasury is the management of government revenue. His absence at the meetings will certainly be felt. Whososever his successor is would be coming into the position at what is certainly a tough time.
The identity of the next secretary of the Treasury is, as of now, unknown, but there are some broad hints about who it might be. According to a report from Fox Business Network in November, Obama was leaning toward appointing his Chief of Staff Jacob Lew to the post.
Lew is certainly familiar with financial dealings. Before being appointed to his current post last January, he was the director of the OMB, Office of Management and Budget. He held the same position under the Clinton administration.
Between the Obama and Clinton administrations, Lew worked for Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) in alternative investments. According to a Huffington Post article, Lew, along with the Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) unit he managed, bet against the housing market, though details of the trade stop there.
If Lew is in fact appointed to replace Geithner, he will have to try on the shoes of one of the President's most important supporters. Geithner has publicly come out in favor of almost everything the President seemed interested in, including higher taxes, energy reform, and, of course, confidence on the administrations economic policies.
The most visible cabinet position, currently held by Hillary Clinton, deals with foreign affairs. In order to preserve the reputation of the United States, the office doesn't lend itself to dramatic partisan battles. That leaves a lot of the heavy lifting to be done by the Secretary of the Treasury.
Jacob Lew is very familiar with the working of the Washington political superstructure. He would certainly have to be able to inhabit the support role, which it seems, was Geithner's most important political responsibility.
There was, at least at one stage, the possibility that Erskine Bowls might be appointed to the position of Treasury secretary, but fears that his own positions might halt the Fiscal Cliff dealings caused that possibility ot halt, according, at least, to Fox Business Network.
The official announcement of Geithner's successor is expected before he exits his department later on this month. Whether Jacob Lew gets the nod, or a surprise candidate is brought in, the first thing they will have to face is bitter Fiscal Cliff negotiations with a reluctant Congress.