You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Who Would Obama's Treasury Secretary Be?

In a long, useful piece about the closing days of the campaign and the beginning of a likely Obama administration, John Heilemann writes:

Given the unusually crisis-plagued environment into which Obama will be stepping, he will want to move quickly, especially when it comes to selecting his Cabinet. Almost certain to come first, perhaps within days, will be his economic and national-security teams. And with those choices, they say, he will want to send a message of centrism and bi-partisanship. It’s conceivable that Obama will ask Bob Gates to stay on as Defense secretary; Chuck Hagel, too, might find a place high in the administration. But although there has been chatter that Obama might also retain Hank Paulson at the Treasury, the inside betting is on a Larry Summers encore. “They’re gonna want somebody who knows the building, knows the economy, has been confirmed before and been advising them on economics,” says the former Clinton aide. “I’d be flabbergasted if they chose somebody else.”

I'm not sure this is right. I'm actually in the middle of reporting a piece that, among other things, thinks through what an Obama Treasury department would look like. Based on conversations with multiple sources in Obama's orbit, my sense is that the senator is very seriously considering both Summers and Tim Geithner, the president of the New York Fed. For those unfamiliar with him, Geithner was a longtime colleague and confidant of Summers at the Clinton Treasury department. He more than knows his way around the building, too.

The point isn't that Obama wouldn't choose Summers--he may well decide to do that. It's that nobody should be surprised, much less "flabbergasted," if he goes with Geithner instead.

Update: Speaking of cabinet heads in the economics sphere, Michael Sean Winters has an interesting thought for Labor secretary.

--Noam Scheiber