The White House has just dropped a Sun­day evening bomb­shell: Neolib­er­al econ­o­mist Lar­ry Sum­mers — who Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma was on the verge of nom­i­nat­ing to be the next Chair­man of the Board of Gov­er­nors of the Fed­er­al Reserve — is no longer being con­sid­ered for the posi­tion, at his own request!

“Ear­li­er today, I spoke with Lar­ry Sum­mers and accept­ed his deci­sion to with­draw his name from con­sid­er­a­tion for Chair­man of the Fed­er­al Reserve,” said Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma in a state­ment sent to NPI and oth­er media out­lets.

“Lar­ry was a crit­i­cal mem­ber of my team as we faced down the worst eco­nom­ic cri­sis since the Great Depres­sion, and it was in no small part because of his exper­tise, wis­dom, and lead­er­ship that we wres­tled the econ­o­my back to growth and made the kind of progress we are see­ing today. I will always be grate­ful to Lar­ry for his tire­less work and ser­vice on behalf of his coun­try, and I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to seek his guid­ance and coun­sel in the future.”

We would great­ly pre­fer that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma seek the advice and coun­sel of wise econ­o­mists like Dean Bak­er, Paul Krug­man, Joe Stiglitz, and Christi­na Romer on eco­nom­ic mat­ters in the future… not Lar­ry Sum­mers. That aside, there’s no ques­tion that this is a huge­ly pos­i­tive devel­op­ment for our country.

Lar­ry Sum­mers has just done what the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States was unwill­ing to do: Rec­og­nize that he’s not the best man for the job.

The full text of his let­ter was as follows:

Dear Mr. President,

I am writ­ing to with­draw my name for con­sid­er­a­tion to be Chair­man of the Fed­er­al Reserve.

It has been a priv­i­lege to work with you since the begin­ning of your Admin­is­tra­tion as you led the nation through a severe reces­sion into a sus­tained eco­nom­ic recov­ery built on the poli­cies to pro­mote employ­ment and strength­en the mid­dle class.

This is a com­plex moment in our nation­al life. I have reluc­tant­ly con­clud­ed than any pos­si­ble con­fir­ma­tion process for me would be acri­mo­nious and would not serve the inter­ests of the Fed­er­al Reserve, the Admin­is­tra­tion, or ulti­mate­ly, the inter­ests of the nation’s ongo­ing eco­nom­ic recovery.

I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to sup­port your efforts to strength­en our nation­al econ­o­my by cre­at­ing a broad based pros­per­i­ty and to reform our finan­cial sys­tem so that no Pres­i­dent ever again faces what you and your eco­nom­ic team faced upon tak­ing office in 2009.

Sin­cere­ly yours,

Lawrence Sum­mers

Sum­mers appar­ent­ly had the full sup­port of the Pres­i­dent. If he had want­ed to be Fed Chair, the Pres­i­dent was going to nom­i­nate him, nev­er mind that his prospects of con­fir­ma­tion were about as far away from cer­tain as a prospec­tive nom­i­nee’s could be. But Sum­mers evi­dent­ly con­clud­ed that the best thing to do was to ask the Pres­i­dent to pull his name from con­sid­er­a­tion — which is what we and many oth­er pro­gres­sives been ask­ing the Pres­i­dent to do for days now.

The Pres­i­dent may not have been will­ing to lis­ten to the likes of us, but he cer­tain­ly lis­tens to Lar­ry Sum­mers, as he made clear in the state­ment the White House Press Office released tonight. Sum­mers, thank­ful­ly, real­ized that his nom­i­na­tion would have been coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, dis­tract­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion from mak­ing progress on a num­ber of impor­tant pol­i­cy fronts (like immigration).

It also could have end­ed in an embar­rass­ing defeat. Sum­mers may be arro­gant, but he has a rep­u­ta­tion for being smart. He saw the writ­ing on the wall. Three Democ­rats on the Sen­ate Bank­ing Com­mit­tee had already pledged not to sup­port him (Jon Tester, Jeff Merkley, and Sher­rod Brown). Eliz­a­beth War­ren is also said to have been a no vote, but stayed qui­et out of respect for the President.

Rather than get­ting caught up in his own ego for a change, Lar­ry Sum­mers has removed him­self from the pic­ture and paved the way for Pres­i­dent Oba­ma to nom­i­nate a far more qual­i­fied can­di­date, like Fed Vice Chair­woman Janet Yellen.

And for that, we are grateful.

I don’t think there has ever been an occa­sion where we have thanked Lar­ry Sum­mers in the past, but in the wake of his deci­sion to with­draw, we’d like to most hearti­ly thank Lar­ry Sum­mers and con­grat­u­late him for his wise decision.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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