Do Americans, even in anxious times, prefer an optimistic leader or an angry one?
Good riddance, Larry Summers.
Obama’s top economic adviser is going back to Harvard by the end of the year, and Harvard can have him.
Summers has a resume of disaster.
As chief economist at the World Bank, he proposed dumping the West’s toxic waste on the Third World.
As Clinton’s Treasury undersecretary, he forced privatization on the Russian people, who experienced enormous poverty as a result. (See Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine.”)
And when he was Clinton’s Treasury secretary, he helped deregulate Wall Street, which led to the current crisis.
When he was President of Harvard, his sexism did him in.
Under Obama, Summers and Timothy Geithner were largely responsible for understimulating the economy.
And Summers and Timothy Geithner were largely responsible for not extracting meaningful concessions from the banks when they were on their deathbeds. “The first big economic debate of the new administration was over whether the government should use the leverage of TARP to force new behavior on lenders (credit was frozen) and on companies awarding outlandish bonuses,” writes Jonathan Alter in his book on Obama’s first year, The Promise. “In a meeting less than two weeks after Obama took office, [Presidential adviser David] Axelrod argued yes, but Summers and Geithner opposed attaching big strings to bailouts. They thought it wrong to kick banks when they were down, not to mention violating their contracts.”
Wrong to kick banks that had destroyed the whole economy?
Alter quotes Summers as saying: “Just as war had unintended victims, bailouts had unintended wealthy beneficiaries.” Unintended my ass!
Summers helped land Obama in the fix he’s in today: unemployment’s very high, resentment at the banks is even higher, and few people can feel the economic benefits that Obama and Summers say they’ve brought about.
So adios, Larry.
Now Obama has a chance to put a progressive economist in.
How about Paul Krugman of the New York Times?
Or Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia?
Both have Nobel Prizes in economics.
Obama sure could use their wisdom, their tenacity, and their humanity now.
And so could we.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his article Republicans Cry “Class Warfare” When They’re Winning the War.”
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter