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Archive for Saturday, November 22, 2008

Officials: Obama plans to name Geithner as treasury secretary

November 22, 2008

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— President-elect Barack Obama intends to name Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve, as his treasury secretary to confront the nation’s intense economic turmoil, senior Democratic officials said Friday. The stock market soared on the news.

Word of Geithner’s likely selection emerged as New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, in line to become secretary of state, said through a spokesman that discussions were on track for her appointment but no final arrangement had been made.

Obama plans to announce Geithner’s appointment on Monday, barring an unforeseen snag in a background check that is nearly complete, said one of the senior officials, both of whom were familiar with the deliberations.

Obama’s choice for attorney general, a third critical post as the president-elect rounds out his top Cabinet echelon, is Eric Holder, who held the No. 2 slot in the Justice Department in President Bill Clinton’s administration.

If nominated and confirmed by the Senate, Geithner, 47, would assume chief responsibility for tackling an economic slowdown and credit crunch that threaten to create the deepest recession in more than a generation. In his current post in New York, he has played a key role in the government’s response to the financial crisis and has worked closely with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve.

As a Treasury Department official during the Clinton administration, Geithner (pronounced GITE-ner) dealt with international financial crises and played a major part in negotiating assistance packages for South Korea and Brazil.

Lawrence Summers, a former treasury secretary and one-time Harvard University president, was being considered as an economic adviser. Economic posts also seemed likely for Obama’s top two economic advisers during his campaign, Austan Goolsbee and Jason Furman.

Officials also said New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson had emerged as a likely pick as commerce secretary, although he had hoped to be secretary of state. Like Clinton, he was a rival of Obama’s for the Democratic presidential nomination last winter. He dropped out after the early contests, though, and soon threw his support behind the eventual winner.

The officials spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the anticipated appointments.

Geithner’s appointment could come as soon as Monday, but it was not clear when Obama intended to formally unveil any of his other picks for the administration that takes office at the stroke of noon on Jan. 20. The president-elect has largely stayed out of public view since his election on Nov. 4, preferring to work quietly with aides and Vice President-elect Joe Biden in a suite of offices in downtown Chicago.

While speculation has been rampant about most top-level appointments, there has been relatively little about Obama’s choice for defense secretary. His aides encouraged speculation before the election that Robert Gates, who now holds the position, would remain in office for an interim period.

Other Cabinet selections so far include former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota as secretary of health and human services and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, likely to be named as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Napolitano was an early supporter of candidate Obama among the ranks of Democratic governors, as was Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. Sebelius has figured prominently in recent days in speculation as possible secretary of labor.

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