This weekend it became clear Lawrence Summers would need Republican support if he had any hope of becoming Federal Reserve chairman when Ben Bernanke finishes in January. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports, Summers called the President and withdrew his name from the race.
The summer of Summers came to a sad, satisfying conclusion on Sunday -- depending on whether or not you were rooting for him to replace Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman. The Journal's David Wessel reports Summers withdrew his name from contention to the President during a phone call and in a letter delivered Sunday afternoon. Whether or not Summers was ever in contention is up for debate, but his credentials are undeniable. He's a former U.S. Treasury Secretary and the former head of Obama's National Economic Council.
Summers pointed to a rocky confirmation process as the reason for his withdrawal. "I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the Administration or, ultimately, the interests of the nation's ongoing economic recovery," Summers wrote to the President.
Summers is right -- his confirmation would have been a hot mess on par with the unbelievably long process it took to confirm Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary. Three Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee indicated they would vote against Summers should he be nominated to run the Fed. "Such resistance complicates matters for Mr. Summers because without the votes of those three Democrats, he would need Republican support on the Banking Committee, where Democrats have a three-vote majority," The New York Times' Jeremy Peters explains.
So, with Summers out of the way, who will replace Bernanke now? The two leading contenders remaining are Janet Yellen, current vice chair of the Federal Reserve, and Donald Kohn, a former vice chairman under Bernanke with literally decades of experience inside the central bank. Yellen's name has been in the race longer and therefore she's already met some resistance. That resistance almost certainly is because she's a woman. Thankfully the world isn't a truly horrible place and many think she's a smart, qualified candidate who will more than likely get the job in the end. But Kohn is emerging as an early post-Summers contender. Fox's Charles Gasparino reports Kohn was recommended by former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.