Monday, September 16, 2013

Larry Summers Won't Get The Chance To Fail at The Highest Level

He has withdrawn from consideration to be chair of the Federal reserve in response to growing pressure against his nomination. Absolutely fantastic news:
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has removed his name from consideration for Federal Reserve chair, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Summers notified President Barack Obama on Sunday via phone call, and sent a letter shortly after.

"I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the Administration or, ultimately, the interests of the nation's ongoing economic recovery," Summers said in the letter.

In recent weeks, Democratic leaders have warned against a Summers nomination; a Senate aide said the move would lead to a "very tough" fight for Senate confirmation. As it stands, Democrats only have a two-vote majority on the Senate Banking Committee. With assumed opposition from Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and a recent announcement of opposition from Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a Summers confirmation faced an uphill battle.

When rumors of a Summers nomination began to pick up in late July, Obama gave a "full-throated defense" of the former secretary in a closed Senate meeting. A Democratic lawmaker at the meeting said the president ripped The Huffington Post for making Summers "a progressive whipping boy," telling Democrats "not to believe everything you read in The Huffington Post."

Obama also faced opposition from a coalition of progressive groups who began to speak out against a Summers nomination once speculation started to gain traction., CREDO, The Other 98%, Democracy For America, UltraViolet, the Campaign for America's Future, DailyKos, the National Organization for Women, Mike Lux's American Family Voices and Color of Change were among those involved in the coalition.
I strongly believe that Summers was Obama's first choice, and that the only reason he has withdrawn is that our pressure has worked. People mobilized hardcore against summers, and this was a real victory.

Alex Pareene makes a good point here:
The volume and strength of liberal opposition to a potential Summers pick seemed to surprise both Summers’ allies and liberals unused to Democrats ever actually successfully challenging Democratic presidents from the left. But once three Democratic Senators on the banking committee all said they’d vote against Summers, it became clear that his nomination would be a circus. And a pointless circus, because there have been, this whole time, numerous highly qualified and entirely uncontroversial choices to run the Fed.

Summers’ supporters now moan that the president didn’t do enough to “push back” against the anti-Summers campaign. All the White House did was dispatch the president to personally try to sell lawmakers on Summers, plant numerous stories praising Summers in the liberal and nonpartisan press, and repeatedly claim that the most prominent other candidate for the position, Janet Yellen, was insufficiently manly. The problem wasn't a lack of effort on the president’s part, the problem was the entire professional history of Larry Summers.
And why wouldn't they be shocked? The Obama administration has seen almost no liberal campaigns against them like the one they did with Summers.

It's a reminder of how to win things. Real pressure on Obama, outside actors/groups constantly raising
hell, leading to several senators saying they'd vote no and making his confirmation impossible. Don't pay nice, make sure there is a political price to be paid for something and people will take you seriously. You might even convince them that it isn't worth the effort. That's what happened here, and it's the lesson for the future: Outside pressure works.

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