Summers To Leave Obama's Economic Team
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Renee Montagne is in Afghanistan. I'm Steve Inskeep.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
Good morning, John.
JOHN YDSTIE: Hi, Linda.
WERTHEIMER: So John, Summers was one of the chief architects of the president's economic policies, which are getting a lot of criticism these days. Is this a here's your hat, what's your hurry kind of situation?
YDSTIE: I think people were a bit surprised by the timing of the announcement, coming before the election instead of after. And one administration insider I talked to suggested maybe Summers announced his departure before the election in order to avoid being made a scapegoat if the election goes badly for Democrats.
WERTHEIMER: Well, you can imagine a situation where after the election the president would decide to shake up his economic team and go in a different direction. The budget chief, Peter Orszag, is gone. Christine Romer, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers, is gone. With Summers gone, that just leaves Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner from the original team. Is this really a shake-up?
YDSTIE: I don't think it's an intentional shake-up. All these people appear to have left on their own accord. But given all the controversy over the struggling economy, President Obama may be happy to have the chance to reshape his team.
WERTHEIMER: It looks, I would say, that Summers certainly would have to take a good deal of responsibility or credit or whatever for the administration's policies.
YDSTIE: President Obama offered his opinion yesterday in the White House statement announcing Summers' departure, he said we are on a better path thanks in no small measure to Larry's wise counsel.
WERTHEIMER: He did have a reputation, Larry Summers, for being abrasive or arrogant. Do you think that that got in the way of what he was trying to do for the president?
YDSTIE: Well, being head of the National Economic Council may not have been the best fit for Summers. It's supposed to be an honest broker for policies going to the president, and sources say Summers was often more interested in promoting his own ideas than those of others.
WERTHEIMER: Who replaces him?
YDSTIE: There's reports the president will name a business person to try to repair relations with the business community, which has complained that they don't have a voice in the White House. One name being circulated is Anne Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox.
WERTHEIMER: Thank you very much, John.
YDSTIE: You're welcome, Linda.
WERTHEIMER: NPR's John Ydstie.
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