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The Populist Rebellion That Tripped Up Larry Summers

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Source: The Nation


Larry Summers (Reuters/Jason Reed)

When it became clear that members of President Obama's own party would not support a nomination of Larry Summers to serve as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, something -- or someone -- had to give.

On Sunday, Summers gave up.

The former Treasury secretary, whose Clinton-era assaults on Glass-Steagall protections and opposition to the regulation of derivatives were blamed by critics for weakening safeguards against financial turbulence, withdrew his name from consideration for Fed's top job.

Remarkably, the decision came exactly five years after the financial meltdown of September 2008.

Progressive critics of Summers had argued for months that he was not the right candidate to tame the big banks -- or to address the fundamental challenges facing the US economy.

But Obama continued to consider the man who served as his director of the National Economic Council.

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Now the president must find another nominee.

Obama is said to be considering several candidates. With Summers out, speculation will focus on the possibility that Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen, who has drawn significant support from key Democratic senators, may be chosen to replace outgoing Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke. But former Fed vice chairman Don Kohn is also thought to be in the running. And the president could consider others.

Obama does not have a lot of time, however. The selection must come before Bernanke is set to exit early next year.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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