It's easy to let the rumor that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is planning to resign get blown out of proportion. The Drudge Report topped their site with the headline "GEITHNER SET TO JUMP SHIP." Gawker went with "Tim Geithner finally ready to quit." The Associated Press chose the much more sober and perhaps accurate, "Geithner says he'll stay 'for the foreseeable future.'" Their report also reminds us that the bombshell tip, like many, came from an anonymous source familiar with Geithner's plans, but that Geithner himself also weighed in on the question.
"I live for this work," Geithner told Bill Clinton in response to a question about the rumor at a Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago on Thursday afternoon. "It's the only thing I've ever done. I believe in it. We have a lot of challenges as a country. I'm going to be doing it for the foreseeable future."
A silly denial from Geithner can't stop the schemers from scheming about who will be the replacement Treasury Secretary. And when the bloggers start throwing around terms like "for the heck of it," you know they're having fun.
- Jamie Dimon (CEO of JPMorgan) - Politico calls Dimon "a strong dark-horse candidate." That's sort of an understatement for the executive who just last month earned the title "Wall Street's hero" for accusing the administration of slowing economic growth with too many new regulations. "Dimon has said he is not interested in public office but many on Wall Street believe he would accept the job if asked by Obama," reports Politico further. "But the White House will have to decide whether Dimon, who leads the most successful bank in the U.S., is too closely aligned with Wall Street."
- Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) - The grown-up at Mark Zuckerberg's social network was previously at Larry Summers's Treasury Department, where she served as chief-of-staff. Summers served as Sandberg's thesis advisor while she was at Harvard. Sandberg followed Summers to the World Bank in the early 90s. "Being Treasury Secretary these days is a thankless job, given the hatred of the Wall Street bailouts, the failure of financial reform, and the massive stimulus and support the government is still directing to the nation's big banks," says Henry Blodget at Business Insider. "But if anyone could pull it off and not become an object of loathing, it would be Sheryl.
- Jack Lew (Director of the Office of Management and Budget) - He's no huge executive at a multibillion private company but he does handle trillions of American dollars. The former deputy Secretary of State has one very important thing on his side: Republican favor. Ezra Klein points out that Obama's track record of Senate confirmations is not great, but GOP Senators seem to love Lew as they've approved him twice already for his other two big administration posts. "No one was more prepared and more in tune with the numbers than Jack Lew," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Thursday in a discussion about the debt ceiling difficulties. "He was always very polite and respectful in his tone and someone who I can tell is very committed to his principles."
- Gary Gensler (Chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission) - This former Goldman guy certainly has the Wall Street experience to cover that side of the equation. Time's Stephen Gandel says that Gensler seems interested in "angling for a bigger job." Gandel continues: "But the fact that he comes from Goldman might look bad. And it's really not the confidence of the market that Obama lacks. It's the confidence of Main Street."
- Everybody else - The other lists circulating around the internet include Gene Sperling, director of Obama's National Economic Council; Laura Tyson, former chair of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers; Michael Bloomberg, New York City's mayor; Erskine Bowles, former Clinton chief-of-staff. The list could go on. Ezra Klein suggests that whomever the choice is, the job might make the most sense for a moderate Republican. "What makes this idea more plausible is that the next Treasury Secretary is likely to preside over an extended period of deficit reduction, which might might make it an easier job for a Republican to take," says Klein. "What makes it less plausible is that he or she will also be in charge of the administration's effort to let some of the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012, which is not a position many Republicans have endorsed."