Timothy Franz Geithner (born August 18, 1961) is an American economist, central banker, and civil servant. He is the 75th and current United States Secretary of the Treasury, serving under President Barack Obama. He was previously the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Geithner's position includes a large role in directing the Federal Government's spending on the late-2000s financial crisis, including allocation of $350 billion of funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program enacted during the previous administration. At the end of his first year in office, he continued to deal with multiple high visibility issues, including administration efforts to restructure the regulation of the nation's financial system, attempts to spur recovery of both the mortgage market and the automobile industry, demands for protectionism, President Obama's tax changes, and negotiations with foreign governments on approaches to worldwide financial issues.
Early life and family
Geithner was born in New York City, but spent most of his childhood in other countries, including present-day Zimbabwe, Zambia, India, and Thailand where he completed high school at the International School Bangkok. He attended Dartmouth College, in the tradition of his father and paternal grandfather, graduating with an A.B. in government and Asian studies in 1983.
In the process he studied Mandarin at Peking University in 1981 and at Beijing Normal University in 1982. He earned an M.A. in international economics and East Asian studies from Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in 1985. He has studied Mandarin and Japanese. Geithner's paternal grandfather, Paul Herman Geithner (1902–1972), emigrated with his parents from the German town of Zeulenroda to Philadelphia in 1908. His father, Peter F. Geithner, was the director of the Asia program at the Ford Foundation in New York in the 1990s. During the early 1980s, Peter Geithner oversaw the Ford Foundation's microfinance programs in Indonesia being developed by Ann Dunham Soetoro, President Barack Obama's mother, and they met in person at least once. Timothy Geithner's mother, Deborah Moore Geithner, is a pianist and piano teacher in Orleans, Massachusetts where his parents currently reside. Geithner's maternal grandfather, Charles F. Moore, was an adviser to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and served as Vice President of Public Relations from 1952 to 1964 for Ford Motor Company.
Secretary of the Treasury
During the 2008 Presidential election, Timothy Geithner was one of three people tipped to be nominated for Treasury Secretary regardless of whether John McCain or Barack Obama won. On November 24, 2008, then-President-elect Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Geithner to be Treasury Secretary. On January 26, 2009, the U.S. Senate confirmed Geithner's appointment by a vote of 60–34.
Geithner was sworn in as Treasury Secretary by Vice President Joe Biden and witnessed by President Barack Obama.
Geithner weathered criticism early in the Obama presidency, when Republican Representative Connie Mack of Florida suggested he should resign over the AIG bonus scandal, and Alabama Senator Richard Shelby said that Geithner was "out of the loop". Democrats largely joined Obama in supporting Geithner, and there was no serious talk of him losing his job. In November 2009, Geithner again came under fire from members of both the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Republican Party. Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio suggested that both Geithner and Lawrence Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, should be fired in order to curtail unemployment and signal a new direction for the Obama administration's fiscal policy.
"We think it is time, maybe, that we turn our focus to Main Street," said DeFazio, speaking for himself and some fellow members of the Progressive Caucus. When Geithner appeared in front of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, the ranking House Republican, Kevin Brady of Texas, said to the secretary, "Conservatives agree that, as point person, you've failed. Liberals are growing in that consensus as well. Poll after poll shows the public has lost confidence in this president's ability to handle the economy. For the sake of our jobs, will you step down from your post?" Geithner defended his record, suggesting Brady was misrepresenting the situation and overestimating popular disapproval of his job performance. In June 2011, The New Republic criticized Geithner from the left, arguing that he was and is overly concerned with the deficit at a time, following the Great Recession, the government should be pursuing stimulus; and as a result, it is possible that the stimulus was smaller than it could have been.
Geithner married Carole Sonnenfeld on June 8, 1985, at his parents' summer home in Orleans, Massachusetts. She was working as a research associate for Common Cause at the time. Her father, Albert Sonnenfeld, was a professor of French and comparative literature at Princeton University, and her mother, Portia Sonnenfeld, was the conductor of the Chamber Symphony of Princeton. They have two children, a daughter and a son.
24 November 2008