Facing increasing criticism from Democrats and economists, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers has pulled his name from consideration to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve — opening the door for other, more estrogen-filled, contenders.
Rumors had been swirling recently around the notion that Obama would be naming Summers, a former top economic adviser of his, to replace the current chairman Ben S. Bernanke, whose term expires in January.
But Summers has been facing strong opposition from liberals and businessmen alike — known for being difficult to work with and criticized for not regulating derivatives when he served as treasury secretary during the Clinton administration in the 90s, he has not been a favorite among Democratic Senators. (And let's not forget that little comment about women not being able to excel at science.) More tellingly, however, even business economists have shown wariness over the possibility of his becoming chairman – according to a survey done by USA TODAY, 56% of the economists questioned said they'd prefer Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen.
"He was very clearly the president's choice," a former top administration official told the Wall Street Journal . "After all the problems they had with the base, a big confirmation battle looked like a bridge too far."
In his withdrawal letter to Obama, Summers made it clear he wanted to keep away from an "acrimonious" confirmation fight — and with the numbers as they were, it was clear that's where he was heading.
“Larry was a critical member of my team as we faced down the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and it was in no small part because of his expertise, wisdom, and leadership that we wrestled the economy back to growth and made the kind of progress we are seeing today,” Obama said in a statement. “I will always be grateful to Larry for his tireless work and service on behalf of his country, and I look forward to continuing to seek his guidance and counsel in the future.”
What his withdrawal means, though, is that the other leading contender, Janet L. Yellen, has a much better shot at being nominated and confirmed. Right now, she's the Fed's vice chair, and she'd be the first woman to ever head the central bank — which would go a long way in improving women's representation in the executive branch.