Please Don't Go Geithner
Despite rumors that Timothy Geithner would step down from his treasury-secretary post once the debt-ceiling crisis was overcome, it looks like he may just be around through the end of President Obama’s term—thanks to pressure from the White House. The man himself says he hasn’t made a decision yet, but the treasury secretary and the president have become quite close, with Geithner the only person left from Obama’s original economic team. Geithner has cited family considerations as a reason for potentially leaving early.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is gearing up for the tough task of trimming the Pentagon’s budget by reassuring the department that he won’t endanger the “excellence of our military” by trimming the fat in a “hasty, ill-conceived way.” According to the debt-ceiling bill just passed, the Department of Defense needs to make $350 billion worth of cuts over the next ten years, and could face $500 billion on top of that if the supercommittee that will be tasked with coming to a consensus on debt reduction can’t reach an agreement by the end of the year. Panetta thinks that would be a very bad scenario: “it could trigger a round of dangerous across-the-board defense cuts that would do real damage to our security.”
President Obama had a chat with his Russian counterpart Dimitry Medvedev yesterday about Russia’s entry into the WTO. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama urged Medvedev to “bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion by the end of the year” by working out the “last remaining issues” blocking the way to entry. One issue still on the table is Moscow’s requirement that foreign car makers produce many of their cars in Russia in order to secure lower tariffs.
U.S. special envoy Marc Grossman had a slew of meetings in Pakistan this week. He sat down with Pakistani President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, General Kayani (head of the army) and Lieutenant General Pasha (head of intelligence services) among others. And he took part in the fourth core group meeting of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States. State Department spokesman Mark Toner called the meetings “very productive.”