Monday, April 27, 2020

In a Slap in the Face to Progressives, Biden Appoints Larry Summers, a "Literal Architect of Neoliberalism," to Economic Advisory Role


by Thomas Neuburger

Over the past three decades, Summers has amassed a policy record of almost unrivaled social ruin.
—Zach Carter, Huffington Post

In a slap in the face to progressives, Joe Biden, who has already announced that if he's elected "nothing would fundamentally change," has appointed the head of Barack Obama's National Economic Council, Larry Summers, as a key adviser to his campaign.

From Bloomberg, which occasionally still reports the news (emphasis added):
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is advising Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on economic policy, including its plans to revive the U.S. economy after the coronavirus pandemic, according to five people familiar with his involvement.

The Obama and Clinton administration veteran’s role roiled progressives who view his past work on the 2009 recovery as too favorable to big banks. That’s awkward for the Biden campaign at a time when it is trying to win the trust of former supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Five people confirming is a deliberate leak, especially since non of them are said to be "unauthorized to speak about the matter."

Progressive groups are aghast, of course:
Two Sanders-aligned groups, Justice Democrats and Sunrise Movement, said Friday they “hope Biden publicleconomic y rejects Summers’s role as an economic adviser to better earn the trust of our generation.” They said they also plan to start a petition calling on Biden to pledge to exclude Summers from his transition team or administration.

Larry Summers’s legacy is advocating for policies that contributed to the skyrocketing inequality and climate crisis we’re living with today,” the groups said in a joint statement.
Summers is such a bad choice for the campaign to be aligned with that The American Prospect writer Robert Kuttner put Summers at the top of his "do not re-appoint" list

But as Rising's Saagar Enjeti points out, the real group that Biden needs to assure isn't Progressive Avenue, or even Main Street — it's Wall Street — and leaking via five sources to Bloomberg News that Summers is now in Biden's inner circle does just that. As Bloomberg put it, with this move Biden has "offered some reassurance [to] Wall Street that Biden is not moving too far to the left from the centrist positions that earned him his establishment support."

I'm not if sure this will get him elected, but it is certain to be noticed, even by not-well-read voters who nonetheless care about the direction of the country. Summers was a marquee name in the Obama administration. As Robert Kuttner points out:
Under Clinton, Summers was a prime architect and huge enthusiast of what proved to be fatal financial deregulation. He was also in charge of Clinton’s economic policy for post-Soviet Russia, and was responsible for pushing for early and catastrophic privatization of state assets, a fire sale that led directly to the creation of Russia’s oligarchs. As president of Harvard, he proved to be both arrogant and sexist, to the point where he got himself fired. ...

[As Obama's chief economic advisor, Summers] not only lowballed the necessary economic stimulus and ended it prematurely, but he successfully fought for rescuing the biggest banks rather than taking them into temporary receivership. Back at Harvard, Summers earns over $600,000 as a university professor but also moonlights at the hedge fund D.E. Shaw, where his compensation is well into the seven figures. (Some would say he moonlights at Harvard.)
There are so many ways that Summers is a bad choice, it's difficult to enumerate them, though both Kuttner and the HuffPost's Zach Carter try. (Carter: "Over the past three decades, Summers has amassed a policy record of almost unrivaled social ruin." Then he lists the ways.)

It's sufficient to say that his appointment is the economic-policy equivalent of bringing in Rahm Emanuel, who famously called liberals "fucking retarded," to handle the Biden's relationship with progressive groups.

If Larry Summers' appointment is part of the mainstream Democratic plan to unite the Party and rally "change voters" behind the Biden candidacy, good luck.

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At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While struggling to win over Sanders supporters, Joe Biden's campaign kicks them right in the face.

And they think they can beat Trump?

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

I HATE Joe Biden and his stupidity. It is such a DUMB move on his part to mesh with Summers at this point in time. I am PISSED that NY is canceling its primary. I am ANGRY that Bernie dropped out too soon to allow me to vote for him in the primary. His liberal policies will now have NO standing with Joe the moron-light candidate and the Democratic party. Will Warren and Sanders supporters sit out the election (if we even freaking have one) if Biden continues on this neoconservative path? OY f..king vey. Will Trump wind up winning if this happens? Double OY f..king vey. Biden is an IDIOT. With this move, he is not even pretending to attract progressives, a rather large group of Dems. STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I guess he thinks the monied interests are all that matters. But corporations do not vote, at least not yet. Progressives will be left in the dust. AGAIN. And the country will fall just like Rome but at warp speed, as it is already halfway there. From great to shit hole in less than a decade. Trump's slogan is sure ironic - he is destroying us and we still have nine months to go. Obama should never have pushed other Dems to drop out and rally support around Biden. I would have taken virtually any of the other candidates over Biden, not that I agreed with a lot of them on a lot of issues - but at least they were smart.

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more in a long litany of evidence that the Dem party is no longer the lesser evil.

At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hone, I predict you'll have your epiphany about the democrap party... a decade after president biden's policies create the 3rd great(est) depression that finally buries the vestiges of America for good.

and you'll have voted for all the bidens and $hillbillarys and obamanations and slick willies all the way... and I bet you won't feel a bit of regret for your part in the collapse.

Maybe biden standing atop the Lincoln memorial yelling "FUCK YOU" at all progressives (with his tapping of Summers -- obamanation's old guy ... remember?) might hasten your epiphany? maybe not.

the democraps are not "lesser" evil. They are just "differently" evil. but only marginally "different".

At 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


But all you do is post the same comment on the internet all day. That's not exactly pro-active either, is it? Spam goes unnoticed on this site, which means the blog's proprietors could not care less what goes on here in the ghetto of commenting land. You're probably not going to change Hone's mind and hell, I agree with a fair amount of what you say but still think you're such a smug ass that I can't help but (jokingly) encourage you to kill yourself as an act of protest. Yeah, it's shithole alright. But merely talking about it doesn't make you any better than anyone else if talking's the only thing you're going to do. You're no better than the many Germans who claimed to be positively APPALLED by the Holocaust once the war ended.

Haven't seen you over at Smirking Chimp lately - banned?

A Jewish guy, a nun, a black guy, a Mexican, a Chinese woman and a horse all walk into a bar at the same time. The bartender looks up and says "What is this, a joke?" - Greta Thunberg (from the original draft of her UN speech - she was going to open with this but changed her mind)

At 1:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Larry Summers news was yet another bad sign. But what's happened in NY today, has pretty much put me over the edge. I bit the bullet for Clinton in 2016 and have been doing it for the Dems for some time. What's going on now though isn't going to cut it. There is no learning curve or adjustment. We are just stuck in this endless loop of running elections over and over again as if nothing has happened over the past 25 years. I guess it makes sense on some level for Biden, his biggest donors and his advisors, because they have done really well over that time -- win and lose -- why bother changing? I was never a Biden fan, there is no way that I am voting for Trump either. But I would at least like to have some reason to vote for the eventual Dem nominee. Right now, I'll probably end up voting third party. I did this in 2000 with Nader in a state that wasn't competitive. I still don't think Nader cost Gore the election -- I think Gore lost the election for a lot of the same reasons that Dems have been losing elections for quite some time. e.g. the party cannibalizes its base constantly without actually building anything. It constantly takes for granted the people who support it (e.g. see Biden et al encouraging people to vote in person in Illinois and elsewhere during a pandemic).

Still, I've made a big investment in progressive politics and the party over the past several years with money and time trying to move the party in some small way towards a direction that can actually lead us out of recurring crises. There have been some victories at the local level and some House seats. Obama's election in 2008 also looked like a break-through of sorts, but it's hard to imagine someone who did less with the kind of political hand that he inherited. The legacy as a party manager too - with 1,000 state, local and federal seats lost, both Houses of Congress lost, the Courts lost, and a Trump election is really quite a statement too. This is his real legacy.

The fact that nearly 16 years of work is potentially culminating in a Joe Biden nomination is just beyond absurd. I hope Jesse Ventura runs at this point, because why not? He's better than Biden or Trump on policy. He's not surrounded by a bunch of self-serving hacks and psychopaths either. He's a more compassionate person than either of those guys. He's a huge narcissist for sure, but not a malignant one like Trump, and not one that constantly lies, like Biden. Given the state of where things are in this country right now, he might very well win. Neither Biden nor Trump deserves it. Neither the Dems nor the GOP does at this point either.

At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DNC picked the wrong candidate.


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