"The Awesome Stupidity of Replacing Larry Summers with a CEO"
The other day, Andrew Leonard of Salon's How the World Works said in response to a post that appeared here on, as he put it, Republican plans to "Erase the last two years and return to the good old days of George W. Bush":
I was struggling to find words to express my Monday morning dismay at this breathtakingly ambitious agenda for making America great again by repeating exactly the same mistakes that screwed the country up, but Mark Thoma, a professor of economics at the University of Oregon, beat me to it (posting shortly after midnight!).
My turn. I was trying to figure out how to say that appointing a CEO as head of the CEA plays into Republican charges that Obama is anti-business, but Andrew Leonard beat me to it:
The awesome stupidity of replacing Larry Summers with a CEO, by Andrew Leonard: If the Obama administration appoints a corporate executive to replace Larry Summers as National Economic Council director then the White House fully deserves the thumping it will get in November.
The ostensible reason for this colossal misunderstanding of the current political situation, sourced to anonymous administration officials, is that the White House wants "to allay the business community's doubts about administration policies."
This is nonsense. The only way for Obama to "allay" the so-called business community's "doubts" would be to join with Republicans in seeking a repeal of bank and healthcare reform, abandon his efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy, and fire Elizabeth Warren. By the definition currently employed on the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, anything to the left of Ayn Rand or Jim DeMint is "anti-business." The bleating from Wall Street executives who feel bullied and demonized only proves one thing: Anything less than their total freedom to pursue profit free of all government restraint is utterly unacceptable -- no matter what the consequences for the country at large.
The very notion that Obama is "anti-business" is an absolute charade, cooked up by conservative pundits and fed by financial industry lobbying muscle. It has no connection to on-the-ground reality, and if administration officials think it is one of Obama's problems then they are the worst kind of spineless idiots.
Obama's dilemma is that his middle-of-the-road approach to solving problems has outraged the base of both parties. ... But appointing former Time-Warner CEO Richard Parsons to Summers' job will not make an iota of difference...
Obama needs to reject the idea that Wall Street must be placated any further than it already has been. It's going to be tough enough over the next two years defending the ground that has already been won. He doesn't need to concede any more. What he really needs to do is fire whoever is floating to the press the idea that the administration is concerned about being perceived as "anti-business."
Paul Krugman agrees.
Posted by Mark Thoma on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 03:42 PM
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