In a Slap in the Face to Progressives, Biden Appoints Larry Summers, a “Literal Architect of Neoliberalism,” to Economic Advisory Role

Yves here. Larry Summers watchers may recall our piece, Why Larry Summers Should Not Be Permitted to Run Anything More Important than a Dog Pound. Summers had put his hat in the ring to become Fed chairman, which elicited an impressive level of negative coverage. So memories have now faded enough that Summers be allowed to hold an important domestic role again?

In fairness, Summers has attempted some rehabilitation, and now regularly takes positions to the left of the former boundary-setter of the limits of Goodthinking Liberal policy, Paul Krugman. Not that that stands for much.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

Over the past three decades, Summers has amassed a policy record of almost unrivaled social ruin.
—Zach Carter, Huffington Post

In a slap in the face to progressives, Joe Biden, who has already announced that if he’s elected “nothing would fundamentally change,” has appointed the head of Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, Larry Summers, as a key adviser to his campaign.

From Bloomberg, which occasionally still reports the news (emphasis added):

Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is advising Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on economic policy, including its plans to revive the U.S. economy after the coronavirus pandemic, according to five people familiar with his involvement.

The Obama and Clinton administration veteran’s role roiled progressives who view his past work on the 2009 recovery as too favorable to big banks. That’s awkward for the Biden campaign at a time when it is trying to win the trust of former supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Five people confirming is a deliberate leak, especially since non of them are said to be “unauthorized to speak about the matter.”

Progressive groups are aghast, of course:

Two Sanders-aligned groups, Justice Democrats and Sunrise Movement, said Friday they “hope Biden publicleconomic y rejects Summers’s role as an economic adviser to better earn the trust of our generation.” They said they also plan to start a petition calling on Biden to pledge to exclude Summers from his transition team or administration.

Larry Summers’s legacy is advocating for policies that contributed to the skyrocketing inequality and climate crisiswe’re living with today,” the groups said in a joint statement.

Summers is such a bad choice for the campaign to be aligned with that The American Prospect writer Robert Kuttner put Summers at the top of his “do not re-appoint” list.

But as Rising’s Saagar Enjeti points out, the real group that Biden needs to assure isn’t Progressive Avenue, or even Main Street — it’s Wall Street — and leaking via five sources to Bloomberg News that Summers is now in Biden’s inner circle does just that. As Bloomberg put it, with this move Biden has “offered some reassurance [to] Wall Street that Biden is not moving too far to the left from the centrist positions that earned him his establishment support.”

I’m not if sure this will get him elected, but it is certain to be noticed, even by not-well-read voters who nonetheless care about the direction of the country. Summers was a marquee name in the Obama administration. As Robert Kuttner points out:

Under Clinton, Summers was a prime architect and huge enthusiast of what proved to be fatal financial deregulation. He was also in charge of Clinton’s economic policy for post-Soviet Russia, and was responsible for pushing for early and catastrophic privatization of state assets, a fire sale that led directly to the creation of Russia’s oligarchs. As president of Harvard, he proved to be both arrogant and sexist, to the point where he got himself fired. …

[As Obama’s chief economic advisor, Summers] not only lowballed the necessary economic stimulus and ended it prematurely, but he successfully fought for rescuing the biggest banks rather than taking them into temporary receivership. Back at Harvard, Summers earns over $600,000 as a university professor but also moonlights at the hedge fund D.E. Shaw, where his compensation is well into the seven figures. (Some would say he moonlights at Harvard.)

There are so many ways that Summers is a bad choice, it’s difficult to enumerate them, though both Kuttner and the HuffPost’s Zach Carter try. (Carter: “Over the past three decades, Summers has amassed a policy record of almost unrivaled social ruin.” Then he lists the ways.)

It’s sufficient to say that his appointment is the economic-policy equivalent of bringing in Rahm Emanuel, who famously called liberals “fucking retarded,” to handle the Biden’s relationship with progressive groups.

If Larry Summers’ appointment is part of the mainstream Democratic plan to unite the Party and rally “change voters” behind the Biden candidacy, good luck.

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    1. Tomonthebeach

      I had just about talked myself into voting for Biden, reluctantly, when Summers raised his victory flag over his campaign. That just made Trump look better in contrast. Why doesn’t Sanders use this sort of crap to abandon his DNC pledge and run 3rd party. If he does not, then maybe his love of country is less sincere than he led us to believe.

      A vote for Bernie is NOT a vote for Trump. A vote for Biden is.

  1. JBird4049

    I’ve been wondering who Joe Biden’s puppeteers might be. Maybe Larry Summers is a member of that steering committee.

    1. Hepativore

      That reminds me…it could be said that should Biden become president, he would not even be the person in charge of actually running things, but whomever his handlers are going to be. All Biden has to do is just sit there while the people behind him pull the levers and push the buttons like what happened with Dick Cheney behind W. Bush. Should Biden completely lose his ability to speak at all in public or become little more than a drooling vegetable, his vice president would be somebody that they can just swap in as another pliable servitor to carry out their neoliberal agenda.

      “…Master of Puppets; I’m pulling your strings…”

  2. The Rev Kev

    You know, if they are bringing back ‘Lightbulb’ Larry to reassure Wall Street that things will stay the same, then old Joe should bring back someone to reassure the Neocons too that things will stay the same for them as well. How about John Yoo as Attorney General? He did so well under Bush and now it seems he is a man for the times-

    1. JBird4049

      They have “Bloody Gina” Haspel as the CIA’s Director. So, why not bring back John Yoo as the AG? I’m sure that having his memos on enhanced interrogation techniques and the doctrine of the unitary executive on his curriculum vitae would please both Joe and Donald.

  3. Philip Snead

    Very effective way to discourage the exact voter participation being mobilized by good govt groups. Way to self-immolate, Democrats!

  4. Glen

    Larry “family blogging” Summers. You just cannot make this crap up.

    Vote ALL of the Democrats out. They have been blocking progress since Clinton.

  5. David Mills

    Larry “I lost a billion bucks for Harvard’s Endowment” Summers…. Awesome. Talk about failing up.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to be a stickler, but if you count only the losses on Harvard’s operating budget (cash in the drawer that Summers insisted on using for speculation) and the fees to get out of Summers’ reckless interest rate swaps, those alone are well over $2 billion. He also pushed the endowment into much riskier assets, but it isn’t clear how much of the $10 billion in losses there can be attributed to Summers.

          1. Massinissa

            There are studies showing that more well off people are less likely to pay parking fees. Despite how much they have, they’re still more unwilling to lose even small amounts…

      1. Off The Street

        There was the institutional reputation damage as well, with that foray into Russia with Shleifer, et al bubbling away around the time of his personnel pronouncements.

    2. cnchal

      It was three billion. I wish it were thirty or forty and wiped Harvard out. Right in the middle of the ever spewing miasma of corruption and venality, the Covid19 of education, spews forth Larry “pretty air” Summers, to infect us all over again with his demented eclownomist advice and to “assure” the criminals of Wall Street they can expand their plunder, as if the trillions of FED bazooka cash fired at them isn’t enough.

      Joe’s team — can Joe even remember who they are when looking at them? — is surrounding him with some extremely unsavory people, yesterday it was “die at 75 cause your a useless drooling fool” Emanuel, who, if he had even a microgram of self respect would apply that standard to Joe.

      How hard will it be for Trump to point out the failings of these gold plated buttwipes, Joe, the senator from MBNA and the one that hangs the non dischargable studet debt millstone around their necks after students have been the victims of education fraud. The list is endless.

      Joe + (Zeke + Summers + the rest of the Obama gong show) = Trump for four moar years

      But, isn”t that really the plan the Dems have had all along?

  6. Kirk Seidenbecker

    For some reason I’m thinking of that Twilight Zone episode – ‘To Serve Man’, with Summers as the author of the alien cookbook the general public won’t be able to decipher until its too late.

  7. Tinky

    To those paying attention at the time, the hiring of Summers by Obama was a devastating blow to whatever hope had been inspired by his campaign. I wouldn’t vote for Biden (nor Trump) in any case, but this really is insulting to the intelligence of voters.

    For those wondering why it may have been obvious that Summers was such a bad hire by Obama, I strongly suggest watching this Frontline episode, The Warning. Still germane, as Lambert would say.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye! Him being brought on board back then was the moment when the scales fell from my eyes….Obama was not gonna be the FDR he portrayed on TV…and was just another Clintonist with better marketing.
      That they;re trotting him out now, in full view of everyone, is an indicator of total contempt, as well as their belief that the Left, such as it is, has nowhere to go.
      it could also be another stick holding up the idea of no, or postponed, or via an App, election.
      Lowering voter participation, by hook or crook or by engineering disgust, has been a boon to the GOP….and it’s been apparent since at least ’15 that the Demparty is on board with this strategy as well.
      Engendering Disengagement due to Hopeless Disgust is just as much Voter Suppression as burning ballots.

    2. EoH

      I don’t doubt that Biden will fully use the Democratic establishment’s traditional message to its left wing – who else are you gonna vote for, pal, Reagan, Bush, Bush, Trump? The left has to fight that one out in smoke-filled rooms, on the streets, in state and county capitals, and in the media. When the left can threaten a House or Senate majority, the establishment will pay more attention to it.

      But not voting for the Democratic nominee is a vote for the current simpleton-destructor. That would seem harmful to everyone but him.

      1. Waking Up

        I absolutely abhor both Joe Biden and Donald Trump which means I never want to look back someday and have to acknowledge that I voted for either one. Decades of “lesser evil” voting has brought us to where we are now. My conscience will no longer allow me to vote for someone who represents everything I detest (I’m done with that). Not voting is NOT a vote for Donald Trump. It’s a vote for “none of the above”. We currently have a system which favors the Democratic/Republican parties to the exclusion of almost everyone else, yet the vast majority of citizens are either Independents or non-voters (often because they know that politicians never represent their interests).

        Jesse Ventura may run as the Green party presidential candidate. He at least has a conscience and a history of caring for others, something completely lacking in Biden and Trump.

        1. Darius

          I think, under the circumstances, a Democratic Senate may be the best outcome to block Trump’s worst initiatives, including appointments. Of course, they will go along with a lot of it anyway while trying not leave fingerprints. They all serve the same donors, after all. Nancy Pelosi sets the model. Let the Republicans take the initiative, then parachute in at the end to loudly demand some window dressing.

      2. Tinky

        Focussing on Trump, who is a grotesque cartoon, misses the forest for the trees. Both he and Biden are clearly symptoms of a diseased system, and the latter will not show the way out. I am highly skeptical that the system can, at this late stage, be reformed from within, but Biden surely won’t be the answer.

  8. LowellHighlander

    I think he’s a brilliant choice: I can see all the millions of citizens who lost their homes, their pensions, and their livelihoods after the Crash of ’08 just lining up ’round the block to stand in line – for hours – to vote for Joe Biden simply so that Larry Summers can be put back in charge of the country’s economic policies, can’t you?

    Lord knows, why would he even consider the likes of Dean Baker, Mark Weisbrot, or William Darrity? They don’t have the track record of “unrivalled social ruin” owned by the semivir from Harvard.

  9. flora

    Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is advising Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on economic policy, including its plans to revive the U.S. economy after the coronavirus pandemic,

    This is the same Larry Summers who worked to make the govt weaker in the Clinton and O admins? Now he wants this weakened US govt to revive the US economy? Or does he want corporations to revive the US economy? That’s more in line with his past performance.

    1. Off The Street

      Robert Rubin must’ve been strategically unavailable, perhaps quarantining in the Hamptons or Gstaad, leaving ol’ Lar to get stuck to ol’ Joe.

  10. jackiebass

    I was thinking about whether I would vote for Biden. My decision was going to be based on who he picked to run with him. Reading this has taken away any doubt. I WON’T vote for Biden.This will be the third election in a row that I will vote for a third party candidate.

    1. lovevt

      this was a Links post several weeks ago-Democrats, You Really Do Not Want To Nominate Joe Biden in Current Affairs; well worth the read

      1. LowellHIghlander

        I want to say that I’d followed that link, and I read that article in Current Affairs. It was golden, to be sure.

    2. Jonathan Goldberg

      Biden is bad, but Trump is so much worse that you have to vote for him anyway. Global warming overrides any scruples based on e.g. coddling Wall Street. I agree with you about that, but we’re stuck with him. One can’t vote third party.

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    ….. That’s awkward for the Biden campaign at a time when it is trying to win the trust of former supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

    The last thing on what’s left of joe’s mind is winning the “trust” of sanders and warren supporters.

    The only thing he’s got for them is the only thing he ever promised them–he’s not Donald Trump.

    barack obama was a bait and switch. uncle joe was right up front. biden’s handlers counted on enough “voters” not thinking it through and they were right. To repurpose an old adage, “Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?”

  12. Tom Stone

    Anyone surprised by this hasn’t paid attention to Biden;s record over the last 40 years.
    Get ready for massive social unrest and the inevitable Government crackdown.

    1. Susan the other

      The emerging transparency of political obfuscation. I can almost hear Summers’ signature gibberish, pretending he’s not really an “advisor”, he’s more like just a spitballer and so Biden might want to “use” him in case Biden’s own neoliberal plans go south… because Larry promises he will gladly be the goat. Larry is such a patriot.

  13. Sound of the Suburbs

    The UK:
    We were ruled by the laws of economics and ended up with ten years of austerity,

    Something has gone seriously wrong.
    It’s time to learn from past mistakes.
    What went wrong with neoliberalism?

    Do you remember how bad it was in the 1970s?
    Oh yeah, that Keynesian, demand side economics was terrible.

    Do you remember how bad it was in the 1930s?
    No, I wasn’t even alive then.
    They couldn’t remember the problems with neoclassical, supply side economics and used it for globalisation.
    Oh dear.

    Economies run on debt, but this is unsustainable and leads to a financial crisis.
    At 25.30 mins you can see the super imposed private debt-to-GDP ratios.
    Debt rises faster than GDP until you get a financial crisis.
    1929 – US
    1991 – Japan
    2008 – US, UK and Euro-zone
    The PBoC saw the Chinese Minsky Moment coming and you can too by looking at the chart above.
    Economies run on debt, but this is unsustainable and leads to a financial crisis.

    Look at the UK.
    What happened in 1979?
    The UK eliminated corset controls on banking in 1979 and the banks invaded the mortgage market and this is where the problem starts.
    The transfer of existing assets, like real estate, doesn’t add to GDP so debt rises faster than GDP

    Before 1980 – banks lending into the right places that result in GDP growth (business and industry, creating new products and services in the economy)
    Debt grows with GDP
    After 1980 – banks lending into the wrong places that don’t result in GDP growth (real estate and financial speculation)
    Debt rises faster than GDP
    2008 – Minsky Moment, the financial crisis where debt has over whelmed the economy
    After 2008 – Balance sheet recession and the economy struggles as debt repayments to banks destroy money. We are making the repayments on the debt we built up from 1980 – 2008.

    1. Sound of the Suburbs

      Japan 1991 – The first nation of the second wave, after the US in the 1929.
      Save the banks to avoid a Great Depression.
      Leave the debt in place to cause a balance sheet recession.

      Richard Koo had studied what had happened in Japan and knew the same would happen in the West after 2008. He explains the processes at work in the Japanese economy since the 1990s, which are at now at work throughout the global economy.
      Debt repayments to banks destroy money, this is the problem.

      In the 1980s, it looked as if Japan would take over the world, but bad financial practices have seen their economy flat-lining ever since.
      Japanese companies found they could make more money from their financial arms (Zai Tech) than they could from their traditional businesses, for a while anyway.
      House prices always go up and their real estate boom would never end, until it did.
      Jusen were nonbank institutions formed in the 1970s by consortia of banks to make household mortgages since banks had mortgage limitations. The shadow banks were just an intermediary put in place to get around regulations.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        Are you in the UK? I ask because of your reference to “corset controls”.

        In 2009 and 2010, I sat at meetings involving visitors from the Nomura Research Institute and Nomura head office and Bank of England and Treasury officials. The Japanese warned about repeating the mistakes made in Japan, but the officials were ignored by their political masters, Labour and Tory.

        1. Sound of the Suburbs

          Yes, I live in the UK and experienced the 1980s real estate boom and bust, with the accompanying recession, first hand.
          I got into the housing market just before it turned.

          Perhaps that experience made me more aware of the personal cost of events like this.

          It is all very strange when everyone seems to be making such similar mistakes.

      2. Sound of the Suburbs

        Neoliberalism is a very clever ideology and is internally consistent, but if you approach it from unexpected angles you can see its flaws.
        I have found its weak spot.

        The economics of globalisation is, for all intents and purposes, 1920’s neoclassical economics and it’s got the same old problems it’s always had.
        The neoliberal ideology was developed from neoclassical economics, and this economics gave it its intellectual backing.
        The economics is the problem.

  14. dbk

    As others above have noted, if Summers’ hiring is designed to complement efforts to shame Sanders supporters into voting for Biden, there’s really a disconnect there, and I suspect it’s between all those advising him + DNC vs Everybody Else. It belongs in the category “You can’t make this stuff up.”

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s not a lie if you believe it, and since Clinton people are really stupid, it’s entirely possible Team Clinton thinks this is an olive branch to the “Bernie Bros.”

      It’s more likely Summers and Biden just hate women who don’t exist to keep other women down.

  15. Code Name D

    And the rotting corps of TPP lurches back to life and begins clawing itself out of the grave.

    1. Off The Street

      More garlic, more stakes, more sulphur or salt or whatever.

      Hoping that TPP, TTIP and SDS or whatever that other horrible program was stay buried.

      Guess I picked the wrong day to stop drinking, and the sun is over the yardarm. /s

  16. KLG

    From Beyond Growth, Herman Daly, 1996:

    By coincidence, a few months later the chief economist of the World Bank, Lawrence H. Summers…happened to be on a conference panel at the Smithsonian Institution, discussing the book Beyond the Limits (Donella H. Meadows, et al.), which Summers considered worthless. In that book there was a diagram showing the relation of the economy to the ecosystem, a diagram exactly like the one I had suggested (and like the one in Figure 3, page 49). During question-and-answer time I asked the chief economist if, looking at that diagram, he felt that the question of the size of the economic subsystem relative to the total ecosystem was an important one, and whether he thought economists should be asking the question, What is the optimal scale of the macro economy relative to the environment? His reply was immediate and definite: “That’s not the way to look at it.”

    An economist (essentially all of them, it seems) with this attitude is the equivalent of a physicist who teaches the aether as a still useful explanatory concept in modern physics, a chemist who “believes in” phlogiston, or the biologist whose work is motivated by the theory of élan vital.

    1. Susan the other

      thank you for this quote, KLG; yesterday’s eye-opener by Michael Hudson about the World Bank being the tool of the Military-Finance Industry’s world extortion… of course Larry would find himself there for service to the country… Economic systems completely out of balance? Who cares? Just send all our used clothing and other recycling items to Africa – they’ll reuse them. Larry is such a problem-solver.

  17. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    Yves describes Krugman as “the former boundary-setter of the limits of Goodthinking Liberal policy”. Former..?

    Last week-end, the BBC featured Krugman alongside former UK chancellor (finance minister) Alistair Darling on a panel. Viewers from around the world were on something like Zoom for the discussion.

    It felt as if Krugman was there to limit the boundaries. He was introduced and often referred to as a Nobel prize winner. His Swedish central bank prize in memory of Alfred Nobel was not clarified.

    Small mercies, perhaps. From 2017 to last year, “Doctor” Chelsea Clinton was often on the BBC’s international services as “a leading expert on public health” (sic). Since Covid-19 emerged, one has not heard a dickie from Clinton. She bought a doctorate off Oxford University. It’s not clear if Barbara Feinman-Todd wrote the dissertation as she did for It Takes A Village. In any case, the supervisor, who “lectures” at the Blavatnik school at Oxford and presents on the BBC, Ngaire Woods, was not going to make things difficult for Clinton. She knows where her avocado on toast is, er, buttered.

    The UK and French governments donate to the Clinton Foundation, citing “the foundation’s expertise and global role in public health”. Some of that money is disbursed according to a mandate. Some is spent as the foundation sees fit. The French donation, by way of Unitaid, comes from taxes on airline tickets. There’s no accounting of how the public money is spent.

    1. RBHoughton

      Always enlightening to hear from you Colonel in the absence of other mature reporters in UK

  18. Rodger Mitchell

    Larry Summers is a damn fool. Here is the proof

    “Summers was on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Reagan.”

    “He also served as an economic adviser to the Dukakis Presidential campaign in 1988.”

    “He said, ‘There isn’t a risk of an apocalypse due to global warming or anything else. The idea that we should put limits on growth because of some natural limit, is a profound error and one that, were it ever to prove influential, would have staggering social costs.’”

    “There was a scandal when it emerged that some of (Summers’s) Harvard (Russian adviser) project members had invested in Russia, and were therefore not impartial advisers.

    “Summers pressured the Korean government to raise its interest rates and balance its budget in the midst of a recession.”

    “Summers was a leading voice within the Clinton Administration arguing against American leadership in greenhouse gas reductions.”

    “As Treasury Secretary, Summers led the Clinton Administration’s opposition to tax cuts proposed by the Republican Congress.”

    “Summers hailed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999, which lifted more than six decades of restrictions against banks offering commercial banking, insurance, and investment services (by repealing key provisions in the 1933 Glass–Steagall Act).”

    He said, “The parties to these kinds of contract (derivatives) are largely sophisticated financial institutions that would appear to be eminently capable of protecting themselves from fraud and counterparty insolvencies.”.

  19. rob

    boy, that biden is one smart fella.

    He is scooping up the “exceptional” talent out there.. before the trump team gets ’em.
    Vote green party….. easy peasy.

  20. earlofhuntingdon

    Appointing to senior economics posts only those who receive a top rating from Wall Street would seem to be at odds with Joe’s version of the hopey-changey thing. It sends the message – bidness as usual.

    That might be exactly the message he wants to send. But if it is, he is likely to suppress the vote. He will miss what this moment calls for and threaten his chances of becoming president. If his top Cabinet posts read like the seating arrangement at a dinner in Aspen or Davos, Joe won’t have to worry about coming out of retirement.

    1. EoH

      I see that Jamie Dimon is on Kuttner’s DNR list, but remains a darling of the Dem’s Wall Street branch. The only Biden administration post Dimon would seem politically appropriate for is, um, I can’t think of one.


    Can we chill on this? Bloomberg wrote that Summers “is advising” Biden, as are many other economists. Not that Summers has been “appointed” to anything (this headline). Or (Sirota) that Biden has “chosen” Summers as his (implied, one and only) “economic adviser.”

    I read the Bloomberg piece, and Summers is correct about a wealth tax likely being unconstitutional, so making it inane to position it as a centerpiece of proposed economic policies.

      1. David R Smith

        Again, a somewhat runaway headline. Biden says that Summers is one of a number of people who are speaking to the press about health care and he’s not a surrogate for the campaign.

        1. sd

          Quote from the article:

          According to the email, which The Intercept agreed not to publish to protect the source, the Biden campaign is making Summers available to speak on Warren’s health care plan, which Biden attacked on Friday.

  22. Peter Lynch

    I understand why someone may not like Biden’s pick for this or that – that’s fine. Disagreement is allowed in a democracy. However, in an emergency, which this is, we have to focus and concentrate ALL, I repeat ALL our resources to defeating the enemy of all the American people, the enemy of ALL people on earth, the greatest threat to national security in history – Donal Trump. We are in the middle rounds of fighting the greatest battle in HUMAN HISTORY – the battle to save our (ONLY) planet from climate destruction. After we have defeated the enemy we can then focus on the key things – Climate, climate, and climate. If that is NOT addressed ALL of the people’s other concerns WILL NOT MATTER because our world will change into something that humans will not be able to survive at the current level of civilization – FOCUS. Please focus and vote against Trump even if it is Biden – I vote for no one or the Green Party – which I am a member of – is a VOTE for Trump.

    1. Jonesy

      I have yet to encounter anyone capable of articulating specific, credible policies improving the material well-being of the vast majority of citizens under a Biden administration that are persuasively different than Trump’s. Instead, all I hear is shrill, unhinged handwaving about how Trump is the biggest threat in the history of the US — much like what you’re doing.

      Clinton, W, and Obama have committed far worse crimes, fundamentally restructuring the economy and the civic arena to exclude anyone not in the top 10%. Biden has repeatedly made it clear he’s a threat to social security, Medicare, anyone who can’t pay cash for college, leftist judicial picks, women’s rights, and anything the liberals supposedly clutch tightly to their bosoms. 90% of your fellow citizens can’t wait for incrementalism, nor should they cater to the resurrection of your bourgeois “norms fairy” that Trump has slain.

    2. Pat

      Bwahaha. Oh, sorry. I thought I missed the snark tag on your post.

      Please, before citing the climate as a reason to vote for Biden get acquainted with his record…well…on just about anything. He didn’t get his nickname Senator MBNA because of his tough stands on human rights and interests. Any improvement on climate issues would be token and meaningless as it wouldn’t serve his owners aka major donors. It would be for show with no teeth or enforcement.

      There are many crisis issues facing America, not just climate. Healthcare comes to mind. Biden is abysmal on all of them, not a lesser evil but an equal one.

      FOCUS Continuing to vote for EITHER major party candidate under the circumstances continues the status quo. Biden doesn’t make any difference any more than Pelosi or Schumer or from the past Obama do or have done. They don’t care.

    3. Wendys

      If the democratic party was serious about this “emergency” then they wouldn’t have brought a dull knife (Biden) to a gun fight.

    4. Massinissa

      The only difference between Rs and Ds on climate is that sometimes the Ds pretend to care about it.

    5. ChrisPacific

      This all depends on the assumption that a Biden administration would be subject to pressure on climate issues in a way that the Trump administration is not. That is by no means a given. Rather than making concessions to the progressive wing (which might just encourage them to more and stronger efforts in future) the Democrat establishment might decide on ruthless suppression, moving further away from progressive policies and towards the mythical ‘moderate Republican.’ After all, Trump doesn’t threaten their jobs or donor relationships in the way that a Sanders victory would have. Whether Biden will seek to find common ground with progressives or crush them is likely to depend on his choice of administration, and the Summers choice is an early indicator on that question.

      There is a case to be made that Biden vs. Trump is a choice between two different flavors of failure on climate, and the only chance for a successful resolution is to look to 2024 and beyond for a candidate that will offer some chance of success. If you take that view, then it’s by no means clear that a Biden victory in 2020 would be the lesser evil. In much the same way that all Obama’s horrible neoliberal policies were defended vigorously by Team Democrat because it was ‘our’ team doing it, Biden failures and betrayals on climate will be constantly downplayed, equivocated or outright gaslighted (“we’re doing a great job!”) At least when Trump does something bad they will call it out as such, even if they can’t resist embellishing it with a lot of fictitious details that feed the ‘fake news’ narrative.

      If you are a single issue voter on climate, you need to make the case that a Biden victory in 2020 would be better over the long term. Right now there are reasons to believe it could be even worse. (Note that I am not taking this position myself, but I do think there is a legitimate argument that needs to be refuted).

    6. Darius

      The Democrats like Trump. He’s great for fundraising. He’s doing all the stuff the donors want that the Democrats would have no stomach for doing in such an open brazen way. They just stand out of the way while he does it and then loudly complain when it’s too late to matter. Everyone’s playing their part. If the Democrats won, they would be responsible for doing something. They would rather the Republicans hold this hot potato. At least the Republicans know what to do with it.

  23. Matthew G. Saroff

    As I have noted on my own insignificant blog, “Centrist Democrats hate progressives more than they hate Donald Trump,” which means that they are willing to lose to Trump to own the progressives.

    It’s the Iron Law of Institutions, “”The people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself.”

    Why else hire a glib, obnoxious, incompetent, (Obama stimulus, repealing Glass Steagall) and corrupt (Andrei Shleifer) lightning rod for a prominent position within the campaign?

  24. Dan

    I am continually impressed how the Democratic establishment is precisely and accurately making every move it can to lose this race. Trump ran to the left of Clinton (if you understand ‘bring back industrial jobs’ as ‘concrete material benefits’, as I do) in 2016, and that’s why he won the Midwest. The choice of a characterless trainwreck like Biden, plus these moves to tack to the right with the most despised ghosts of the Obama era, gives Trump the opening again to run as the man of the people.

    And with all due respect to the ‘anyone but Trump’ crowd, most Americans live in Soviet-style one-party states where the presidential results are a foregone conclusion. A leftist who votes for Biden in California for instance, is really, truly throwing her vote away.

  25. David R Smith

    Many leftists hate corporate Democrats more than they hate Trump…

    You don’t know if BIden has “hired” Summers or, more likely, if he’s serving as a volunteer.

    1. time2wakeupnow


      Many leftists hate corporate Democrats more than they hate Trump…”

      Prolly because of the fact that these same DNC “corporate Democrats” helped deliver a Trump victory in 2016…and very well might….again!

      “You don’t know if BIden has “hired” Summers or, more likely, if he’s serving as a volunteer.”

      Either way, the purposely ‘leaked’ involvement of Summers in Biden’s Economic “advisory” team signals to the ruling financial oligarchy that it will be the “same ol’, same ol'” top down economic policies with ol’ Joe nominally in charge.

      1. David R Smith

        You don’t know that. For all you know Biden could transform into Network anchor Howard Beale in the months ahead and then bogeywoman Neera would have to have him shot. Or maybe Bogeyman Summers would do the honor.

    2. anon in so cal

      Perhaps bc Trump sometimes veers toward policies to the left of those implemented by centrist
      CIA Dems. And, Trump hasn’t *yet* started any major wars. Obama “I’m really good at killing people” started regime change wars in Libya and Syria. Escalated Afghanistan. Supported (engineered) an anti-democratic coup in Ukraine (starting a US proxy war with Russia). Supported an anti-democratic coup in Honduras. Gave us Plan Colombia and Plan Mérida.

      1. David R Smith

        Come on, let’s be precise. Obama didn’t start anything in Libya or Syria. The previous Ukraine government was not democratic. And it was Hillary who demanded that Obama let her have her pound of flesh in Honduras.

        And you can’t fault Trump for not trying to start wars in Iran and Venezuela

    3. Michael McK

      Really? Suggesting that he could possibly be volunteering for the post makes his involvement no less galling and makes you seem naive if not sinister. Of course Summers would not need to get paid. None of these creeps need whatever peanuts government “service” pays them. They earn far more from the margin they earn on investments thanks to their continued system rigging and are probably proud to serve their class.
      (Insert what Dan said above at 1:07)
      And since when has a SoS been able to demand a pound of flesh from the President? Is that really an argument that we should continue to support team DNC?

      1. David R Smith

        It doesn’t sound like a “post.” I was just suggesting that we word our arguments accurately, and not leap to conclusions (being hired) that we don’t know.

      2. David R Smith

        Not at all about the DNC. I was just making a point about accuracy. Obama was ready to withdraw support from the Honduran government, but Hillary charged in and made it clear this one was important to her, and he let her have her way. Facts do matter.

    4. John Wright

      Re: You don’t know if BIden has “hired” Summers or, more likely, if he’s serving as a volunteer.

      Sure, but the campaign could decide to NOT allow him to be a volunteer.

      The article has:

      “Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is advising Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on economic policy, including its plans to revive the U.S. economy after the coronavirus pandemic, according to five people familiar with his involvement.”

      “The Obama and Clinton administration veteran’s role roiled progressives who view his past work on the 2009 recovery as too favorable to big banks. That’s awkward for the Biden campaign at a time when it is trying to win the trust of former supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.”

      I believe Biden’s people released this information for a reason (donor signaling?), and whether Summers is paid or not is irrelevant.

      1. David R Smith

        And Biden’s staff let it be known that Jarred Bernstein and Heather Boushey also are advising him on economics? For the same reason?

        1. John Wright

          From Wikipedia:

          “From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden in the Obama Administration. He was considered to be a progressive and “a strong advocate for workers.”

          Donors should already be aware of Bernstein’s belief that M4A is not possible, which helps with the healthcare industry.

          “Elizabeth Warren’s “Medicare for All” plan is too much of a political reach to actually be implemented on Capitol Hill, says Jared Bernstein.”

          Having Summers as advisor allows Biden to look more financial industry friendly.

          Good balance for placating donors.

  26. anon in so cal

    Larry Summers of “let them eat pollution” notoriety. Summers had advocated shipping developed nations’ toxic waste to LDCs, whose lower life expectancy meant most residents would have passed away before the resultant cancers manifested.

    1. K teh

      Never make a decision based upon what the fascists do or don’t do.

      Look at Cuomo’s media support.

  27. phichibe

    I haven’t read all the prior comments so apologies if this has been touched on. The many ironies of Larry Summers continue to amaze, but perhaps my favorite is the recent episode where he tweeted that he couldn’t understand how the US was now in a position where it couldn’t/didn’t manufacture sufficient cotton swabs for a coronavirus testing program. Here’s an excellent take-down of this by the capable hosts of “Rising” on Hill TV

    Larry Summers is to self-awareness what Charles Manson was to foster-care for runaway girls. Yes, he’s recanted some of his past actions and positions but he’d have to do a conversion on the order of Saul-t0-Paul before I’d believe him. His publications that made him the youngest full-professor in the history of Harvard were all predicated on the neo-liberal assumptions of post-Keynesian economics, unlike those of his illustrious uncles Paul Samuelson and Robert Solow.

    Summers epitomizes the policy maxim “for every difficult problem there is a solution that is simple, elegant, and wrong.” In addition, his personal ethics are beyond problematic. Even leaving aside his role in promoting Andrei Schleifer and the looting of post-Soviet Russia, the $5,000,000 annual ‘consulting’ gig to the hedge fund DE Shaw that he held down while serving as President of Harvard was beyond squalid. No wonder Hillary Clinton was baffled that people questioned her accepting the $675,000 for 3 speeches to Goldman Sachs. In her eyes, she was modest in her buckraking compared to Summers.

    Biden appointing him is a clear signal to Wall Street that we will have a return to DLC-conformant Clintonism. No thank you.


  28. Chauncey Gardiner

    As noted in an article yesterday in The Nation by Jeet Heer, Summers was the architect of key neoliberal policies and held senior posts under both Obama and Clinton. Among other damaging policies, Summers pushed for bank deregulation and repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that enabled large Wall Street banks to engage in highly speculative lending, securities and derivatives which were such a factor in the financial collapse of 2008. Subsequently, he both supported the banks’ rescue and failed to support a policy that would have allowed federal bankruptcy judges to reduce mortgage balances, cut interest rates and lengthen the terms of loans and that would have enabled millions of desperate homeowners to avoid foreclosure. Dovetails in nicely with Biden’s own historical policy positions as a senator denying debt relief and making it harder for many debtors to even file for relief under federal bankruptcy law.

    So we are again left with 2020 as a Clinton-Obama Redux vs. Trump II cage match… How entertaining, and that “Nothing will fundamentally change” must surely be a comforting thought for a few. Seems to me this horrific coronavirus pandemic and its effects are merely an afterthought in the minds of some. Lovely triangulation strategy you’ve got there. Sure would be a shame if something happened to it.

  29. Susan the other

    Why on earth does Biden want an “economic advisor” who is pushing for an un- or poorly-regulated digital currency for use on the internet – aka Libra? Is it because Biden himself is dead set against national sovereignty and social decisions backed by sovereign currency? We all know it is ridiculous to equate internet currencies with sovereignty. The two have nothing in common. But Larry – the great national patriot – would clearly like nothing more than to break the last few remaining chains that bind private money to social and national causes. Larry is a living disaster. And much, much worse.

    1. RBHoughton

      I’ll raise a glass to that Andrew. Given the complexity of the problems facing humanity we need to end factionalism in parliaments and devise another way to reach decisions. In my long life the political leadership has got worse and worse. Every country needs a pilot to steer the ship.

  30. Bub-in-PA

    God help us if it’s Rubin, Geitner, & Summers all over again. If it is, Biden has lost my vote.

  31. attila the hun

    I don’t think Biden is responsible for selecting Summers. Biden is merely a front man for the Democratic wing of Wall Street and big business. He will do what he is told, as will the top party officials. When the big money says jump, they say how high? The conversion of the Democratic Party to a morally and intellectually bankrupt institution started with the venal Clintons and continues to the present. If Biden wins, Summers will be Treasury Secretary or Chairman of the FED. The status quo will be undisturbed.

  32. everydayjoe

    Progressives are forever silenced in America. There used to be many of us in places like Wisconsin , for example( where I spent my formative years) but have been systematically silenced by corporate media, GOPs tactics and most deadly of all ,the nexus between ever-shifting to the right democrats and wall street. Depressing.

  33. eg

    As I’ve told you before — it’s Team Pepsi vs Team Coke. Either way, it’s neoliberalism in the bottle ….

  34. Sound of the Suburbs

    What’s wrong with a market based ideology like neoliberalism?

    Central banks can create a “wealth effect” by pumping up the stock market.
    This 1920’s neoclassical economist learnt the hard way that stock market valuations can be misleading.
    “Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” Irving Fisher 1929.
    In the 1930s, they realised stock markets can be pumped up artificially and this is what today’s central bankers use to create a “wealth effect”.
    In the 1930s, they developed a more reliable measure to see what is going on in the economy, GDP, but by the 1980s they had forgotten why GDP was invented and went back to using the markets again.

    The University of Chicago has always been a centre of free market thinking and in the 1930s they needed to find out what had gone wrong in the 1920s.
    The Chicago Plan was named after its strongest proponent, Henry Simons, from the University of Chicago.
    He wanted free markets in every other area, but Government created money.
    To get meaningful price signals from the markets they had to take away the bank’s ability to create money.

    Henry Simons was a founder member of the Chicago School of Economics and he had worked out what was wrong with his beliefs in free markets in the 1930s.
    Banks can inflate asset prices with the money they create from bank loans.
    Henry Simons and Irving Fisher supported the Chicago Plan to take away the bankers ability to create money.
    “Simons envisioned banks that would have a choice of two types of holdings: long-term bonds and cash. Simultaneously, they would hold increased reserves, up to 100%. Simons saw this as beneficial in that its ultimate consequences would be the prevention of “bank-financed inflation of securities and real estate” through the leveraged creation of secondary forms of money.”
    Real estate lending was actually the biggest problem lending category leading to 1929.
    Richard Vague had noticed mortgage lending balloon from 5 trillion to 10 trillion from 2001 – 2007 and went back to look at the data before 1929.

    Henry Simons and Irving Fisher supported the Chicago Plan to take away the bankers ability to create money.
    “Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” Irving Fisher 1929.
    This 1920’s neoclassical economist that believed in free markets knew this was a stable equilibrium. He became a laughing stock, but worked out where he had gone wrong.
    Banks can inflate asset prices with the money they create from bank loans, and he knew his belief in free markets was dependent on the Chicago Plan, as he had worked out the cause of his earlier mistake.
    Margin lending had inflated the US stock market to ridiculous levels.

    The IMF re-visited the Chicago plan after 2008.

    The University of Chicago had forgotten all about the Chicago Plan by the 1980s.

    Today’s policymakers thought banks were financial intermediaries and didn’t know banks created money.
    They couldn’t see the problem with the markets the University of Chicago had found in the 1930s.

    Ben Bernanke is famous for his study of the Great Depression and here it is discussed in the Wall Street Journal.
    “Theoretically, neither deflation nor inflation ought to affect long-run growth or employment. After a while, people and businesses get used to changing prices. If prices fall, eventually so will wages, and the impact on profits, employment and purchasing power will be neutral. Borrowers suffer during deflation because their debts are fixed in value, but creditors benefit because the dollars they get back will buy more. For the economy as a whole, deflation ought to be a wash.”
    What has Ben Bernanke got wrong?
    He thinks banks are financial intermediaries and there was no way he could understand the debt deflation of the Great Depression.

    This is how banks really work Ben.
    Bank loans create money and debt repayments to banks destroy money.
    This is where 97% of the money supply comes from.

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