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David Dayen: Could the White House Want to Confirm Larry Summers With Republican Votes?

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By David Dayen, a lapsed blogger, now a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on Twitter @ddayen

If we’re to believe the thin sourcing from CNBC’s John Harwood, sometime in the next few weeks, Larry Summers will be announced as the nominee to become the next Federal Reserve chair. As I mentioned when this came out, it’s fitting that the news broke on Women’s Equality Day. Indeed, after Janet Yellen resigns in disgust (at least that’s my assumption of what will happen next) there will be no women on the Fed board of Governors, with Elizabeth Duke already gone and Sarah Bloom Raskin nominated for a top position at Treasury. Add Jerome Powell (whose term expires next year) and you have five spots vacating in the next year. Does Summers even have four brothers?

Nominations of this type at least strip away the excuses that Obama has been somehow “misled” by his economic team. It’s beyond clear that he drove the Summers selection from the very beginning; he’s comfortable with Summers, he thinks the guy did a good job in 2009-2010, and he lines up ideologically with him. Maybe Barack Obama didn’t say personally that bringing in “cheap Chinese goods” is good for the U.S. economy, or that global warming requires a “go slow” approach, but that’s the perspective of his top advisor. So what’s the difference?

I don’t think there’s much hope at this point in blocking the nomination from the outside; apparently a chief executive can make terrible choices for dodgy reasons whenever he wants, as we’ve learned time and again. And someone who secured re-election largely on the strength of his appeal to women in the electorate can create a glass ceiling for the aforementioned gender, without much of a backlash. It’s good to be the king, especially when the court is so cowed (and by court I mean the professional DC liberal class).

However, we’re starting to see the stirrings of strategizing about whether Summers can get the votes in the Senate for confirmation. I start from the position that he can and will – I have seen far too little inclination from Senate Democrats to stand up to their party leader, and regardless of how big a game Republicans talk, when the officialdom wants something to happen, it usually does. Nevertheless, the capacity does exist to bottle up the nomination, particularly in the Senate Banking Committee, if not on the Senate floor. Reuters gamed this out:

Summers, who writes an opinion column for Reuters, has drawn the ire of two Democrats on the committee that will need to clear his nomination. And a third of the Democratic caucus in the Senate sent Obama a letter urging him to choose Yellen, putting the onus on the president to court Republicans to reach the required number of votes if he picks Summers instead [...]

If Obama chooses Summers, the first hurdle would be getting through the Senate Banking Committee.

Obama’s fellow Democrats have a 12-10 majority on the panel, but two of them are Summers’ biggest critics within the party – Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a consumer advocate and fierce critic of Wall Street, also sits on the committee.

Brown, who spearheaded the pro-Yellen letter, has told Reuters he would vote against Summers, while Merkley has said he has serious doubts about the former World Bank chief economist.

For her part, Warren is trying to reinstate a modern version of the Glass-Steagall Act – the 1933 law that barred banks from merging their investment activities with commercial banking, which Summers helped dismantle when he was Treasury Secretary in 1999.

If Brown follows through, the White House would need at least one committee Republican to support Summers for his nomination to be considered by the full 100-member Senate.

Things get trickier if Merkley and Warren also oppose him.

Emphasis mine. First of all, this is a threshold moment for the named Senators here, and if they really don’t want to see Summers at the Fed they should make it known very directly to the White House that their votes cannot be had. They don’t have to go public, though that might help. But they need to be direct. Brown has gone public, and good for him; Merkley has expressed “reservations,” and Warren has been very tight-lipped (it would not be enough to get a viral video out of some tough questions and then going along with the vote; Warren did oppose Michael Froman for U.S. Trade Representative over the TPP, so there’s precedent here for her). There are others in the caucus, like Maria Cantwell and Bernie Sanders, who could vote no if Summers advanced out of committee and onto the floor, but I think the deal is sealed at that point. It’s either committee or bust.

Reuters surmises that Bob Corker and Mike Johanns would be available to the President as votes for Summers, but that the roster gets thin from there. I could see Mike Crapo, the ranking member, vote for Summers as well, but it’s a toss-up. So there are a few questions here:

1) Is Warren, a freshman Senator with Presidential buzz, willing to defy the Administration in a way that would endear herself to some section of a primary base?

2) Just how many Republicans can Obama call on to give him a Summers vote? More important, what are the conditions on that exchange?

3) And this is the real key, is this a bug or a feature? I think the latter. You’re a President with a very tough set of fiscal fights coming up. You’ve wanted entitlement reforms for five years, but cannot get it worked out. You’ve been playing footsie with the Senate Republican caucus all year. Now you’re in a situation where you need Republican votes. Is it not advantageous to make the argument that you “got” important votes on a Democratic choice for an important policy position as part of whatever deal gets made, a deal you’ve pined for all along anyway?

I mean, any rational human would have given up on grand bargaineering by now, and none of this implicates the House. But it sure does help to create that “permission structure” in the Senate. It creates a series of favors that will have to get paid back. And then the White House can argue that they simply had to go along with, I don’t know, the chained CPI measure they put in their own budget, because it was a way to “get” Larry Summers, among other things.

I mean, it’s not like anyone is making a secret of this:

Summers’ path to confirmation becomes smoother if it reaches the full Senate, where a handful of Republicans are actively working with Obama on budget issues.

The group includes Republicans such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who have worked closely with Democrats on other contentious policy issues such as immigration reform.

Mitch McConnell may be so scared of a primary challenge that he could demand unity on a filibuster. But I doubt it. And the President would seem to be in a much better strategic position for his purposes getting Summers confirmed with 10 Republican votes than with 4.

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43 comments

  1. JaaaayCeeeee

    David Dayen nails how Larry Summers would or wouldn’t get confirmed as Fed chairman. The only effect that I can add is that what Dayen calls the professional DC liberal class may be ignoring at its peril (along with the professional liberal news media) is the huge number of voters that appointng Larry Summers will turn away from the Democrats.

    Anyone who thinks that the Democrats might, if in the majority in all three branches, enact the reforms we need, will be completely turned off by the appointment of a Wall Streeter who’s never even worked at the Fed. Since you never hear anyone in the press dare to talk about this, I think it’s potentially a big deal.

    1. Eric377

      Highly exaggerated. Summers is no where near as controversial in the party as you think. No one gets that high in political world without people who dislike them, but there won’t be a mass exodus if he’s nominated. Many more people care more deeply about the QB position on the N Y Jets, for example.

    2. Eric377

      Highly exaggerated. Summers is no where near as controversial in the party as you think. No one gets that high in political world without people who dislike them, but there won’t be a mass exodus if he’s nominated. Many more people care more deeply about the QB position on the N Y Jets, for example.

    3. Eric377

      Highly exaggerated. Summers is no where near as controversial in the party as you think. No one gets that high in political world without people who dislike them, but there won’t be a mass exodus if he’s nominated. Many more people care more deeply about the QB position on the N Y Jets, for example.

    4. Lexington

      The only effect that I can add is that what Dayen calls the professional DC liberal class may be ignoring at its peril (along with the professional liberal news media) is the huge number of voters that appointng Larry Summers will turn away from the Democrats.

      You mean the voters that didn’t turn away from the Democrats when they failed to deliver on card check, or escalated the war in Afghanistan, or didn’t close Gitmo, or bailed out the TBTF banks on the public dime, or tried multiple times to cut social security and medicare, or vastly expanded and entrenched the surveillance state, or crushed Occupy Wall Street, or didn’t convict a single senior Wall Street insider for imploding the economy?

      Suddenly THOSE people are going to abandon the Democrats because Obama nominates Summers? THAT’s the straw that’s going to break this camel’s back?

      Seriously…what colour is the sky on your planet?

      1. JaaaayCeeeee

        You’ve nailed the problems with expecting Democrat voters to get their representatives on the banking committee to tell Obama, like Sherrod Brown, that they won’t vote yes on Summers.

        But this is not just a policy issue; it’s also a people issue (what Hillary used to call personality politics), which, if voters understood, might matter, even if Summers sails through.

        For example, I tried to comment on nyt’s Economix blog, last night, linking to Dayen’s post here, that voters should communicate to Democrats on the Banking Committee, to influence Fed chair nomination.

        The comment never got approved. This tells me that there is significant concern about Dem voters’ reaction to Summers. Voters hare not exactly gotten the importance of communicating to Banking Committee Democrats from the news. So, there may indeed be strong voter support for Yellin, which is misinformed on how to proceed, and eventually may wish they saw David Dayen’s post.

        I don’t expect Chuck Schumer to listen to constituents concerned about Larry Summers, but many Democrat voters care about Summers’ ties and work history, including with women, and care about insiders skipping ahead of an experienced Fed woman.

        If a progressive Democrat ever gets through to them, with David Dayen’s points, even AFTER Summers sails into the Fed, that’s a big problem for Democrats, just like Diane Feinstein is starting to face unsatisfied constituents.

  2. Conscience of a Conservative

    Summers is he nominee. What’s going on now is not consideration, but behind the scenes lobbying for Summers. No sense in announcing the nomination until the President is assured the votes are there.

    1. 12312399

      Obama’s greatest, most effective conservative in the past 50 years (lower case-c conservative)—even more effective that Reagan.

      Ironically seemingly no one in the GOP cares while most of the left shoves their fingers in their ears to maintain the illusion that Obama is one of them.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The bases of the two parties are tribalists by nature. They have no concept of values except “Red Team Bad Blue Team Good.” You could insert Red Sox and Yankees for Democrats and Republicans into any DailyKos diary, and nothing would be lost.

        Guys like Nader are the great villains because they point out that the tribes are exactly alike which is an even greater sin than being in the other tribe.

        Republicans don’t care because Obama is the leader of the other tribe. There is nothing he can do to win their support as a whole because he is the OTHER. Lieberman, Zell Miller, and Colin Powell have made partial cross overs, but there is a wariness about them. Their main appeal is that they betrayed the OTHER tribe and drive them up the wall. Its no different than Yankees fans wearing Johnny Damon jerseys or Red Sox fans holding “A-Fraud” signs despite being thankful the players union wrecked the A-Rod to Boston deal except politics matters.

        1. Yearning to Learn

          @Not Tim:

          I disagree. This is not a matter of Red Vs Blue. It’s a matter of Red working with Blue versus the American electorate.

          If you’re playing poker, and don’t know who the mark is, it’s you.

          This is nothing more than Kabuki Theater, it’s World Wide Wrestling writ large.

          Obama gets up there and proposes neoliberal (essentially Republican) strategies to rape and pillage our middle class and transfer all wealth to the 0.01%. Then the Republicans get up and PRETEND to be outraged, and pretend that Obama is a Socialist/Communist. This gives Obama cover. He can then negotiate (aka, “cave”) and pursue an even further Right wing corporatist military agenda, so that the Republicans can get up and again pretend to be angry, giving him cover.

          If the Left dares to squawk, out comes Bachmann and Perry and Santorum, and the Left hides under a rock.

          You don’t think that the Republicans were serious with their 2012 contenders for President, do you? Of course not! That was window dressing to get Obama re-elected so that he can crush the middle class on their behalf. Face it, they threw the election because Obama can screw the middle classes 1,000 times more than Romney-bot ever could have.

          How else do you explain Obama proposing TIME AND TIME AGAIN that he will cut SS/Medicare, and then the Republicans saying “that’s not a compromise!” and then Obama coming back to the table with… you guessed it… even MORE cuts to SS and Medicare!

          We, the American electorate, are the marks.

          Republicans and Democrats are laughing together all the way to the bank (of K street).

          1. Garrett Pace

            “Kayfabe” is a popular analogy around here. I think the sports metaphor is apt, too – there IS competition, but it is in a limited sphere, a closed system with specific restraints. They still follow rules established by a higher authority – the banks.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            You misunderstood my point. It was about the followers. The followers of these parties are no different than team sports fanatics. Every true Red Sox fan knows that seeing the Yankees lose is preferable to the Red Sox winning, but if the Yankees are bad for too long, the game just isn’t as fun. Both teams are mirror images in many ways (big money, big tv, big media); although in retrospect, Steinbrenner was a pretty good owner who spent money on the team instead of using the team to make money.

            The game and the spectacle are important to the followers. Nader pointed out that the modern R vs. D divide is all Major League Baseball. The followers (i.e. the Republicans who think Obama is a Bolshevik) can’t recognize this because they are like the Red Sox fans with the A-Fraud signs who had pre-ordered A-Rod Red Sox jerseys in 2004.

            The followers of the two parties are like the fans of these teams, the people who gave a standing ovation to Ben Rothlesberger after he was accused of rape or threw tantrums over Michael Vick being prosecuted. They can’t recognize the abuse from the league because the great enemy is the other team.

    1. Yearning to Learn

      indeed.

      I’ve been calling Obama the Trojan Horse President for years. Only Nixon could go to China, and only Obama can further Right-wing wet-dream policies of slashing Medicare/SS, gutting the public work force, expanding the Military Industrial Complex, and massively expanding the US Police State/Surveillance State.

      If GWB did 1/100th of what Obama does there would be riots in the streets from the Left. But since it’s Obama, they either drink his Koolaid, or they are cowed when the Right parades out Palin and Santorum et al…

      Talk about Hostage Taking. Get in line behind O or we get Santorum instead.

      The Kochs are peeing themselves in glee, as they astroturf the TeaCrazies which only gives Obama cover to move even further to the Right. (all the while he’s called a “Socialist”).

      Disgusting.

      1. Yearning to Learn

        Martin,
        If I’m reading you correctly, I agree wholeheartedly that we really only have a Single Party State, with two factions of the Same Party. (at least when it comes to economic and military policy… there are minor differences with a few social issues)

        The Good Cop, Bad Cop routine is super fun to watch on a TV show… But when it’s the entire basis for our political lives, not so much.

      2. psychohistorian

        Nicely put. The myth of current politics covering for the plutocrats.

        I commend David heartily for the effort he went to in this posting to contextualize the situation.

        I want to stand up for Jeff Merkley, one of my Senators. If we are going to see positive change in our government anytime soon, Jeff Merkley is going to be in the middle of it.

        Than said, is this the filibuster moment for Jeff to help change the direction of this sorry ship of state? I wonder what the NSA has on him and his family?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” isn’t how the filibuster works. Eventually people like Merkley to sit out and stop giving credibility to a flawed system. He can’t command the floor.

          Southern Democrats could command the floor in the past because Democratic control of the Senate was determined by the alliance with the solid South, and without it, the Republicans would control the Senate. Since the Solid South is a relic, the need for a filibuster is non-existent. Of course, the filibuster wasn’t available to the Republican minority because they knew the Democrats would remove/ignore it when it suited them.

          Like the Republicans holding speeches on C-Span in the 90′s, speaking on the Senate floor is a show for the local rubes.

          Merkley should be naming names. For example, Merkley should form a PAC dedicated to funding candidates who don’t give money or campaign on behalf of the more egregious Democrats. Take the Democrats who voted to prevent cloture on the Republican filibuster over ending tax breaks for oil companies (I think this was in 2009).

          In this particular case, I would rather see Merkley use his voice to get Democrats on the record opposed to Fed nominees who have deregulated the financial markets and energy markets.

      3. Crazy Horse

        I disagree. The Repugnut wing of the Property Party clearly favors oil and gas interests slightly more than the Demothugs. And the Demothugs do love their banksters. So clearly there are differences within the ruling party. When it comes to spending for the Department of War there is total consensus and everyone shuffles up to the feed trough shouder to shoulder.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Some people need to stop pretending Obama is anything other than a sterling example of the modern Democrat.

      From votes of deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, deregulation, and a general refusal to use the filibuster against the Republicans, the Democrats have done nothing but to aid and support conservative policies for a number of years. Democratic voters need to recognize the Democratic elite and they have very little in common.

      The argument that Democrats would oppose a Romney Presidency is absurd. They demonstrated they would deliver the votes for whatever W. wanted. Bush’s two defeats were at the hands of his own party’s base on Harriet Miers and Social Security (boomers and retirees did that; while the Democrats looked for common positions).

  3. rich

    Federal Reserve Employees Afraid To Speak Put Financial System At Risk

    WASHINGTON — Regulators overseeing the nation’s largest financial institutions are distrustful of their bosses, afraid to speak out, and feeling isolated, according to a confidential survey this year of Federal Reserve employees.

    The findings from the April survey of roughly 400 employees, presented to Fed staff during multiple meetings in June and July and obtained by The Huffington Post, show a workforce that is demoralized, and an institution where teamwork is nonexistent, innovation and creativity are discouraged and employees feel underutilized.

    The shaky morale is a legacy of Alan Greenspan’s 19-year term as Fed chairman. From 1987 to 2006, the Greenspan Fed pushed for a hands-off approach by regulators, who then found themselves blamed for the financial crisis that led to the most punishing economic downturn since the Great Depression.

    “Supervisors during the Greenspan years were beaten down pretty regularly,” Phil Angelides, former chairman of the congressionally appointed Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, told HuffPost. “It doesn’t surprise me that you would still have some dysfunction, a lack of morale and something less than a highly energized and well-coordinated arm of the Federal Reserve, where for so long the regulators and bank supervisors were held back by the leadership of the Fed.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/28/federal-reserve-employees-survey_n_3826165.html

    Summers will fit right in….

  4. TC

    The Fed, right now, already is the gold standard in insolvency. They’re trapped–destroyed–and it simply does not matter who leads this dead body under the current paradigm finding the Fed at the apex of a mountain of unpayable claims on a collapsing global physical economy.

    So, there’s just one thing left for any sentient American to demand: Seize the Fed! Transform it into a Hamiltonian national bank financing the build out of a physical economy worthy the 21st century (that’s 21st, not 12th, so windmills are o-u-t).

    In other words, the next Fed chair need be the U.S. House of Representatives itself. Elizabeth Warren had the right idea in her bill to fund Department of Education Stafford loans, whose effect would have been the partial nationalization of the Fed. We need the full Monty.

    I would also add here the deafening silence being afforded the fact Fed chair Confetti has been forced into “retirement” by a bi-partisan consensus is as perplexing as a “war on terrorism” currently finding its prosecutor taking the side of al Qaeda in Syria. Hands off Syria, you bankrupt imperialist cowards!

    1. Doug Terpstra

      That’s the silver lining to Summers’ appointment to the Criminal Reserve, that it collapses and is seized during his tenure. Then again that may be exactly what the Neocons want: to complete the Shock Doctrine coup.

      1. S M Tenneshaw

        I can forsee an actual physical collapse of the Fed building itself as Summers waddles down the hall.

    2. Yearning to Learn

      the next Fed chair need be the U.S. House of Representatives itself

      perhaps I’m missing something, but you mean the same US House of Reps that can’t do anything except vote to repeal Obamacare and name post offices?

    3. Dan Kervick

      There are no real financial solvency considerations with a central bank. The Fed can in either a condition of positive or negative “equity” indefinitely and never miss a single payment of any kind. The only question is how much money gets remitted to the Treasury.

  5. NotTimothyGeithner

    They have to. Single younger women are the most fickle of likely Democratic voters. They make the difference between winning and losing. Larry Summers disgusting nature and the track record of Democrats on various women’s issues would make voting for Summers an election killer because the Democrats only have rhetoric which would be dismissed by the symbolic nature of voting for Larry Summers.

    Take the lack of Democratic congressional statements on supporting Obama’s thuggery in Syria is an example. They are growing concerned.

    1. NotSoFast

      NTG- The D establishment are not concerned with winning keeping single women. They will probably nominate Wall Street backed Hillary in 2016, and think that electing the first female President, who is a social liberal, will be sufficient motivation for them to turnout regardless of whatever stench comes form the whole Summers nomination.

  6. Richard Lyon

    Summers will be installed as the Fed chair. He is the choice of Wall St. Obama is a neoliberal. All you have to do is look back at the financial crisis and bailout and see that the same players are in control.

  7. TomDority

    Ya know, we are all operating in a neo-classical economic fishbowl. All the fish within it are educated and ensconced within it’s glass contained waters. All the major economic thinkers have let the waters pass through their gills to breath (most at least).
    I think, with others in a position to help; Elizabeth Warren has a clear concept of what the neo-economists have done to marginalized the obvious alternative system of public finance and, how to counter their arguments in an effective manner (by publicly exposing the neo-econs spurious and magical views) – remember the whole – we built it by ourselves vs public investment in infra made it possible for you to build stuff?
    Having said that – the others on the list and most those vetting and most of the population including the Prez, have been indoctrinated in the neo-econ fantasy. It is a fundamental reason so many vote against their interests and why so few vote – most are within the fishbowl.

    Voters faced with two candidates, each coached and educated by a neo-classical economists, also face a hard choice. They often appear apathetic and take a third choice,
    staying home. However, history denies that voters are intrinsically apathetic. They have been excited by candidates who try to lead up and away from
    dismal trade-offs.

  8. clarence swinney

    1980 to 2013 Fact Checker
    Reagan ruined the Savings and Loans. Got us involved in 5 foreign conflicts.
    Increased Spending by 80%. Increased Debt by 189%.
    Cut 218,000 jobs per month to 175,000.

    Bush I raised taxes to fight the Reagan inherited debt.
    Consequently, he lost to Clinton.

    Clinton signed off on NAFTA, Repeal of Glass Steagall, Modernization of the Commodities market, gave us a Surplus not a deficit. He got full employment by adding 237,000 jobs per month and, in one month, had a 3.9% unemployment. He increased the minimum wage.

    Bush II took the surplus and gave the rich a huge tax cut. Then, after 9-11 initiated the invasion and rebuilding of two nations. Both were financially destitute and practically unarmed nations.
    The world looked in horror and alienated 1500 Million muslims.
    He implemented Part D Medicare without funding it. He did not tax to support two wars.
    He increased Spending by 90%, Debt by 112% and took a surplus to a 1400B Deficit.

    Obama implemented an 800B Stimulus and payroll Tax Cut and added 30,000 soldiers to the Afghan war instead of withdrawing.

    In 33 years we went from a 600B Budget to 3900B. A 917B Debt to 16,700B. We added an average of 99,000 net new jobs per month from Carter’s 218,000 per month.
    There is plenty of mud to sling on each President.
    The Democrats held the House for 40 years prior to 1994 and helped created reasonable budgets.
    The Tea Party in the House ( David Koch funding) is correct on cutting government but off base on
    refusal to pay our bills with tax increases on Wealth. We must support our government with adequate revenue and since top 10% own most of the wealth they must help by paying a Fair Tax.

  9. TomDority

    As a side note:
    It baffles me that so much talk and action revolves around taxation…yet, in political and economic discourse the most important issue – TAXES – is not discussed in an informed way (‘taxes bad, less taxes good’), or sidelined to talk of regulation and from it, the short circuiting of ability to levy taxes and, instead, issuing of fines that have become the cost of doing business. Without doubt, the arberiatage of regulation is big business.
    Look at how important the issue of taxation has been over many years and how the plutocrats are in constant arms against taxation….look at how much money they commit to foundations and politicians to squelch the whole issue of taxation and the dumbing down of the population required. Why do you suppose the Kocks support the tea party at every turn? – they in-fact know that this is indeed the crux of the matter to their survival and dominance – yet seldom is heard about this most important topic.
    After all, taxes are the most powerful mechanism wielded by we the people who, have invested this power thru our constitution and to our politicians by our form of representative democracy…our republic.
    Given this power – should we not, as a people, be giving more thought to our tax system, to what we tax, etc.
    Even in the infancy of the neo-economics thought and education – paramount was the destruction of taxation that was key in enabling the rent-extractors rise over the years to their power – this was a known ploy, an imperative in the schooling and a deliberative effort in neo-economics.

    Of course, the buying of politicians, the expenditures in higher learning, the intrusion into privatizing education and the buying of media is a direct and concerted aim and imperative that was created since the inception of neo-economics – the players behind it are the monopolists, the plutocrats, the financiers – the rent extractors – who stand to benefit most thru the tax system that has been so tilted in their favor. Through their efforts…they have deliberately smothered the issue of taxation at every turn and, financed the misinformation required to perpetuate their interests – It’s time We the People wake up to the fundamental tragedy that has devastated our world.

  10. Hugh

    Hocus pocus. What never gets mentioned in any of this TINA kabuki is that any Senator, of either party, could put a hold on a Summers nomination and stop it dead in its tracks. I do not know why any Republican would back Summers. Yes, he is a horribly destructive corporatist hack, but in Washington, that’s more of a recommendation than a criticism. His problem is rather that he is a Democratic horribly destructive corporatist hack. So again, why would the Republicans support him? As for McConnell, he has a Tea Party challenger in the primary and opposition to a Summers nomination would be a plus, not a minus. And seriously, how many Kentuckians are going to base their vote solely on what McConnell does about Summers?

  11. NotSoFast

    The big question is whether a tie vote is sufficient to emerge from committee. Because if Brown, Merkley and Warren all vote no, then two R votes are only going to get you to 11-11. In most cases, the nomination dies with a tie vote.

    My guess is that if Brown/Warren/Merkley all vote no, this horrendous nominee is going to die. Rs are not going to vote for a partisan D who has trashed them in the past, even if they agree with him on financial issues. I actually think Yellen would get more R votes in the Senate.

  12. mac

    Someonr above referred to Obama as conservative. I can think of no more stupid statement that could be made. Obama is NOT conservative
    nor is he liberal, he is Obamative(he cares only about his own glory as he sees it).
    He has no ideas other than making himself look good. PHONY is the word.
    Anyone sucked in by his acts should seek the help of a professional
    Mental health practitioner.

  13. sandra

    When it comes to the vote, Sherrod Brown has always caved — and supported Obama. He has done it repeatedly — I have angrily written to him in the past to remove my name from his mailing iist.

  14. Greensachs

    Our wholly owned Federal Government; simply a disgusting dissapointment. The Wash/Wall Street Tribes imperviously swindling along as the nation shrieks in desparation and anguish.

  15. Don Lowell

    Summer’s is an oozing bucket of slime and not fit for any office. Its a breaking point for this Dem,

  16. Dan Kervick

    The interesting issue that could emerge with Summers is that his confirmation hearings could evolve into a long-deferred national debate on the economic legacy of the Clinton administration. That debate never occurred back in 2008 and 2009, when Obama put his team together, because the financial collapse occurred on the Republican watch, and the country was still dazed and confused about what it all meant. And Obama was enjoying a honeymoon. But that’s all gone now. A lot of people have been very well educated since them on the havoc wrought by the Rubin mob, and will be loaded for bear this time.

    I don’t think Obama can count on Republican support, since they would be fools to pass up the opportunity to take a shot at Team Clinton and its cronies as they look to 2016.

    Also, even though it does seem true that Obama hearts Summers, HRC visited the White House a couple of days before Obama’s recent stern upbraiding of the Democratic caucus over Summers. It’s possible that the real political push behind Summers is coming from the Clintons, who might be very eager to get one of their cronies in place in powerful positions like the Fed going into 2016.

    1. Hugh

      Questioning in most Congressional hearings is poor with little follow-up. Most Senators simply bloviate their time away or allow the witness to run out the clock. Warren might, might ask a few decent questions. Curiously, it is often wacko Republicans ignoring the playbook who pose the best questions in these kinds of hearings. The Democrats go all deferential to Obama and are pretty worthless.

  17. Kim Kaufman

    This will be, IMO, a make or break vote for Elizabeth Warren. This will show whether she really walks the walk or just makes good speeches in front of cameras. Sadly, I think she’s the latter.

  18. Percy

    This is a late comment on David Dayen’s piece on the proposed Risk Retention Rules for lending (8/29/13 of this blog),a draft of which uncomfortably disappeared just as I was about to put it up, but lost, to my disappointment when the Dayen piece was moved to “old news.” That piece is very much worth reading and contains a link to the joint agency release proposing the new rules — rules that should, but I fear will not (because they are so long, so boring, and so hard to take in) evoke general outrage. The piece articulately criticizes the new definition of a “QRM, ” which type of loan would be exempt from the “skin in the game” measures and attendant creditworthiness requirements otherwise applicable to home and commercial loans. It also praises, as I do, SEC Commissioner Gallagher’s excellent dissent from the proposals (which can be found only separately on the SEC’s site because not published with the offending risk retention rules release itself). The points I meant to make, in summary, were these. First, the multi-agency QRM definition will reignite the practice of issuing low quality loans, meant to be stopped by Section 941 of the Dodd-Frank Act, swallow whole the underlying risk retention idea, and dilute the stiff qualifying principles otherwise required for home and commercial lending. (The discussion of QRM can be found buried in the tediously long multi-agency release at about page 248, as I recall.) Second, the reasons offered for putting forward this bad QRM idea bear an uncanny and uncomfortable resemblance to the diffuse, unpersuasive, attention-deflecting, “no-one-was-to blame” reasons for the financial crisis offered by the majority in the Majority Report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission two years ago. These, you will recall, were debunked convincingly by Peter Wallison in his own dissent from that thing. (Wallison offers a much more convincing, if politically unpalatable, alternative based on governmental interference with sound lending, resulting predictably in a great, costly, and frightening mess.) The multi-agency joint risk retention rules, if adopted as proposed, will plunge us once again into unsound lending — lending to those too stupid to know they cannot afford the loan and to risk-taking speculators. These loans again will be mixed with others in securitized pools offered to investors, all this to the delight of real estate agents, banks, and politicians everywhere. Haven’t we been here before? Do we learn nothing? I meant to conclude my lost comment, and do this one, with “Happy Days Are Here Again!”

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