(WASHINGTON) — There will be no 1,000 days of Summers. That’s about how long Lawrence Summers would have run the Federal Reserve under President Obama if confirmed by the Senate as chairman of the nation’s central bank.
However, in a surprise to the administration, Summers, a former White House economic adviser, called Obama on Sunday to let him know he didn’t want the high-pressure job of overseeing the Fed’s Board of Governors who analyze domestic and international financial and economic developments as well as supervising and regulating the U.S. banking system.
During his tenure with Obama, Summers worked closely with the White House to help institute policies that enabled the economy to climb out of its deepest hole since the Great Depression. The president came to depend heavily on the guidance of both Summers and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner when unemployment was hovering around 10 percent and the markets were at nearly half their pre-recession levels.
However, Summers has had his problems in the past. As treasury secretary under former President Bill Clinton, he was criticized for deregulating parts of the banking system. During his stint as president at Harvard, Summers upset women when he questioned their aptitude in math and science.
There was already plenty of rumbling from some Democrats that they would not vote to confirm Summers, including Jon Tester of Montana, Sherrod Brown, Jeff Merkely of Oregon and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
That much opposition within his own party would force the president to turn to Republicans, something he’s adverse to doing with the debt ceiling looming and GOP lawmakers threatening to defund the Affordable Care Act.
With Fed Chief Ben Bernanke leaving in four months, Obama may decide to expand the current field of potential candidates from Fed Vice Chairman Janet L. Yellen and former Fed Vice Chairman Don Kohn.
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