Tag Archives: Larry Summers

Syria and Summers Prove the Power of No


President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin

New Orleans  The progressive forces can suddenly count coup on the Obama Administration over two issues in the matter of recent weeks for both economic progressives and anti-war advocates.

            The irony of having a Nobel Peace Prize winning President caught in a web of his own weaving and left with only military options in Syria and virtually no support from the United Nations, the international community, the United States Congress, or his own party is nothing short of amazing in its proof of a fundamental detachment from basic governmental process.  The schoolyard axiom was always to “think before you speak,” the political rule has always been to “count your votes before you speak,” and the President seems to be leading with his mouth rather than his mind in these matters.  Now luckily for all parties, we are back in the muck and murk of diplomacy with an agreement to take control of Syria’s chemical weapon supply even as there are reports that Syrian military operatives are running around that country trying to hide them away before the turnover.  Nonetheless, even in the worst case scenario, if we are forced to act, we won’t be a pariah country this time, and we are finally giving peace a chance.

            Domestically and to our great relief, Larry Summers, the brusque and arrogant economist and former Treasury Secretary and President of Harvard, has thankfully withdrawn his name from consideration as head of the Federal Reserve Board.   This was the same guy whose fingerprints were all over the deregulation of the banks and rise of risky derivative speculation as well as the “no help, good luck” policy for homeowners facing foreclosures.   Obama was supposedly grateful to him for his help in dealing with the Great Recession, but this was more of a case of someone who was called in to fix something they had helped break, and certainly not someone you could put in charge of something as important as the money supply for our economic future.  Once again, the lack of vote counting was front and center.   In a recent piece I asked who thought Montana’s Senator Jon Testor would really sign up to vote in favor of a big bank apologist.  Sure enough he joined Democratic Senators from Ohio and Oregon and likely Massachusetts in the “no” camp on the Senate Banking Committee on Summers’ potential nomination in a huge victory for progressives.

            These victories are important reminders of the power of saying NO.   The Tea Party has been using such leverage to great effect, so it’s actually past time for progressives to stand up as well, and it’s working.

            Unfortunately, a negative tactical power doesn’t create constructive victories that might win immigration reform or better voter protection or funding for social programs, but at least maybe the President and his people will stop taking our votes for granted and start seeing what he can put on the table to persuade us to stand with him in the future.           



Counting the Votes against Larry Summers at the Federal Reserve

the-reason-that-larry-summers-was-hired-by-a-vc-firm-that-no-one-will-talk-aboutNew Orleans   Counting the votes seems to be an increasingly big challenge for President Obama and his Administration.   The most well known problem today involves Syria where he can’t seem to get the United Nations Security Council or a majority of the G-20 largest industrial countries to back military strikes in that country to protest with blood the use of chemical weapons.  Congress is also not exactly rallying to the latest war cry with the left and right finding agreement that the country is war weary and there must be another way to protest.

His reportedly dogged quest to appoint Larry Summers to head the nation’s Federal Reserve Bank is also troubled even as many are puzzled why he is trying to put a primary architect of the deregulation of the banks and relaxing of regulations that led to the Great Recession in that position anyway.   Summers is famous as well for his inability to work with others.  His tenure as Harvard’s president was mired down by his degrading remarks about women’s potential in science.   Incredibly his mishandling of the mortgage crisis by toadying to the banks and refusing to allow foreclosure modifications to be implemented while working for Obama in the White House has also cost millions their homes.  It just seems crazy wild that Summers could be a frontrunner for the Fed under any circumstances.

According to the Wall Street Journal, we still have hope given the administration’s poor vote counting skills.   Democrats only have a two-vote majority on the Senate Banking Committee which would make the recommendation to the full body required to approve Summers for the post.  Two key Senators on the Committee, Sherrod Brown from Ohio and Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts have everything  but signed in blood that they would not vote to approve Summers, largely and correctly, over his failures around home mortgages.  Congressional aides also indicate that Jeff Merkley from Oregon has indicated that he would vote “no” on Summers sending the nomination down hard, which is where it should go.

What’s the President thinking?  He could appoint the respected vice-chair Janet Yellen, make women everywhere happy at this important “first” and get a money policy expert who is in favor of more regulation, rather than the Summers “less” program.  Even Wall Street seems like they might be happier.

Let’s do the country a favor and reach out to the Banking Committee members and urge them to stand fast for us rather than the banks.   They might own Charles Schumer from New York, but they shouldn’t, and since when would a Senator like Jon Tester from Montana be in the banks’ pocket?



Tim Johnson Chairman (D-SD) Mike Crapo Ranking Member (R-ID)
Jack Reed (D-RI) Richard Shelby (R-AL)
Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) Bob Corker (R-TN)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ) David Vitter (R-LA)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Jon Tester (D-MT) Patrick J. Toomey (R-PA)
Mark R. Warner (D-VA) Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR) Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Kay Hagan (D-NC) Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Joe Manchin III (D-WV) Dean Heller (R-NV)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)