Timothy F. Geithner is a man with his work cut out for him. Serving under President Obama as the as the 75th Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury, Geithner must assume a leading role in wrestling with America’s worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Other than that, piece of cake, right?
In his last job, Geithner worked as president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In this position, he also served as vice chairman and permanent member of the Federal Open Market Committee, the group of minds responsible for formulating the nation's monetary policy, such as it is.
No stranger to the management of really big public money, Geithner worked for the Treasury Department from 1988 to 2002. In the highlight of his first Treasury experience, Geithner served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs from 1999 to 2001 under Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers.
From 2001 to 2003, Geithner served as director of Policy Development and Review Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Controversy Clouds Confirmation
Geithner’s Senate confirmation was delayed and perhaps placed just a bit in jeopardy, when it became known that he owed some $35,000 in unpaid federal self-employment taxes. A 2006 IRS audit revealed that Geithner had failed to pay required self-employment taxes for tax years 2001 through 2006.
At his confirmation hearing, Geithner testified that the failure to pay his taxes was due to an “unintentional” error during his time as Policy Director of the IMF. Geithner told the Senate that while he was at the IMF, he considered himself to be a regular employee, which he was not, rather than a self-employed contractor, which he was. Regular employees do not have to pay self-employment taxes, while contractors do.
In the end, Geithner paid his back taxes with penalty and interest, and apologized to the Senate panel considering his nomination, calling his tax problems “careless” and “avoidable.” While the press was not too impressed, the Senate seemed to be, confirming Geithner’s appointment.
The full Senate confirmed Geithner’s appointment by a vote of 60–34 on Jan. 26, 2009.
Early Life and Education
Geithner was born in Brooklyn, NY on Aug. 18, 1961, and spent most of his childhood living in Zimbabwe, India and Thailand. After finishing high school in Bangkok, he earned a BA in government and Asian studies from Dartmouth College in 1983. He earned an M.A. in international economics and East Asian studies from Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in 1985.
Geithner and his wife, Carole Sonnenfeld Geithner, were married on June 8, 1985, in East Orleans, Mass. And currently have two children.