So, Larry the Loser is leaving! Nice alliteration, the phrase rolls off the tongue the way chief White House economist Larry Summers is rolling off the Obama top team, rolling back to those hallowed Harvard halls.
Larry has served as director of the president's National Economic Council since the start of the Obama Administration, and for most of that period I have tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to get him to adopt more progressive economic approaches to our present plight.
As an economist myself, I first saw Larry in his crib at his father Bob Summers' house on the main line suburbs of Philadelphia. Bob Summers was head of the principles of economics course at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in the 1960s, and I was then a grad student there who taught three or four sections of that course each term. The first few times I emailed and faxed proposals to the present Larry Summers at the White House, I reminded him of that background, to establish some sort of rapport with him. There was zero response.
And that same zero response continued as I proposed, for example, an American version of the Scandinavian ombudsman process, in which every citizen has a government official or officials responsible to represent him or her in disputes with the government if he or she has a case -- and sometimes, even if that case is not all that persuasive. The right of government representation is part of Scandinavia, but not part and parcel of the American governmental and economic system.
Larry Summers did not do anything for my proposal, except to ignore it.
Then there was the input I provided to the many financial system regulatory bills and other measures emanating from the White House;
that input also sort of fell into the Potomac, as it never seemed to reach Larry Summers, or for that matter anyone on his substantial staff. Nor did proposals to enhance the new consumer financial protection agency -- or on any other Obama theme, for that matter -- go anywhere. None of those proposals was evaluated on its merits, as far as I Know. (How could I possibly know? -- they were not even acknowledged.)
So, farewell to Larry the Loser at the end of 2010! His tactless remarks while President of Harvard, to the effect that female scientists were not as good as male scientists, earned him well-deserved opprobrium there. Having attended Harvard's neighbor MIT myself before the University of Pennsylvania, I know that those in Cambridge have long memories and will well recall Larry Summers' sexist words.
Of even more concern to us liberals, though, is his lack of courage in promoting progressive solutions to America's economic problems, as promised by Candidate Barack Obama. He could have made a real difference, but he chose not to do so. Larry the Loser let America, all of us, and President Obama, down. I have two words for his return to Harvard: