Geithner's Job at Treasury Safe, Obama Says
President Obama stepped up his weeklong defense of much-criticized Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, saying he would not accept his resignation even if it was tendered.
It came ahead of a critical week for Geithner, who is expected to unveil his much-anticipated bank bailout plan and outline broad financial regulatory reforms to better police Wall Street within days.
Obama said in an interview with CBS television network's "60 Minutes" program that if Geithner tried to quit, he would tell him, "Sorry buddy, you've still got the job."
Geithner has been under fire over his failure to block at least $165 million, and possibly as much as $218 million, in bonuses paid out to employees of insurer American International Group, which has received billions in government aid.
With public outrage over the AIG bonus scandal mounting and several lawmakers calling for Geithner's resignation, Obama was forced this week to repeatedly defend his treasury secretary, saying he had his complete confidence.
While Obama has said Geithner's job is safe, some Washington pundits have noted it is not a good sign that the president has had to say it, and so often.
The odds on whether Geithner will leave by the end of June increased over the last week in the Intrade political prediction market, although traders still gave it only a small chance of happening.
Obama stressed in the "60 Minutes" interview, which will be broadcast on Sunday, that neither he nor Geithner had discussed the possibility of his quitting, CBS said in a statement on Saturday.
Geithner said this week he took full responsibility for the controversy surrounding the AIG bonuses and dismissed calls for his resignation, saying it "just comes with the job."
Geithner, who has been in his job less than two months, has also faced criticism over his slow roll-out of plans to save the banking sector, which Obama said this week was key to staving off further financial calamity.