Now that Larry Summer will be leaving his important White House economic adviser position as the director of the National Economic Council, President Barack Obama will have to replace him. Who Obama selects will indicate the direction he wishes to take U.S. economic policy during a time when the still-suffering economy has seen persistent joblessness, threatening to cripple his party in the 2010 and 2012 elections. Here are the suggestions, the guesses, and the arguments for Summers's replacement.
- They'll Pick a Female CEO Politico's Glenn Thrush and Kendra Marr report, "Obama’s team already knows the ideal candidate to replace him on the National Economic Council – a woman CEO. The pick doesn’t have to fit that bill precisely, but it’s highly likely Obama’s pick will be either a woman or a business leader – and preferably both, said several people familiar with the situation."
- Business Leader With Communication Skills Former Paine Webber CEO Donald Marron tells the Daily Beast, "What’s very important for this administration is someone with business experience, someone who has created jobs. Whether or not you agree, they’ve gotten through these two big reforms, health care and financial reform. Now, job creation needs to be number one, with visible economic growth number two—whoever gets this position needs to understand that, and be an excellent communicator."
- Don't Placate Wall Street The Huffington Post's Richard Eskow writes, "A CEO appointment won’t placate the executives who complain that 'Obama doesn’t like us.' That’s just a ploy to intimidate him into giving them what they always want: less regulation. If he names an executive to this position, they’ll just use a new ploy. Besides, the Administration already has a senior business executive on its economic team: Jacob Lew, who is being nominated to run the Office of Management and Budget."
- Pick an Economist! Reuters's Felix Salmon writes, "The corporate-executive idea is a bit weird: of all the positions in the White House economic team, one would expect the NEC director to actually be an economist. And there aren’t many economists who are also prominent corporate executives. (Actually, I can’t think of any. Readers, help me out here!) I also very much doubt that the presence of a corporate executive in the White House would have any success at all in countering criticism that the administration is anti-business."
- GE's Jeff Immelt or Verizon's Ivan Seidenberg 24/7 Wall Street's Douglas McIntyre writes, "The speculation is that the Administration will replace Summers with a person more sympathetic to large business, a group that President Obama has alienated. Perhaps he will pick Jeff Immelt, the head of GE (NYSE: GE), or Ivan Seidenberg, the head of Verizon (NYSE: VZ), which just appointed the man likely to be his successor."
- Xerox's Anne Mulcahy The Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman and Elizabeth Williamson report, "Former Xerox Corp. chief executive Anne Mulcahy quickly emerged as a leading candidate to replace Mr. Summers, though White House officials caution that no decisions have been made yet. A senior administration official confirmed that Ms. Mulcahy had dinner in Washington Friday evening with senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett. She is highly thought of within the administration, the official said, where she serves on the President's Economic Advisory Board."
- University of Chicago's Austan Goolsbee The Daily Beast's Peter Beinart writes, "The person most likely to fill the power gap is Austan Goolsbee, newly promoted to head the Council of Economic Advisers, a former University of Chicago professor who enjoyed a close relationship with Obama but was regularly big-footed by Summers. If Summers’ departure does signal Goolsbee’s ascent, it will represent an odd inverse of the Clinton pattern. When Clinton got into trouble, he replaced Arkansas loyalists like chief of staff Mack McLarty with Washington insiders like Leon Panetta and David Gergen. But in Obama’s season of discontent, the pendulum may be shifting the other way. Goolsbee is an FOB from Chicago."
- CEO Ann Fudge The Washington Post's Ezra Klein writes, "The early reports are that the White House wants to replace Summers with a female CEO, if possible. One candidate might be Ann Fudge, the former CEO of Young and Rubicam Brands, and current director for GE, Unilever and Novartis. In February, the White House named Fudge as one of two CEOs serving on the president's bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, so she's certainly on their radar."
- Will Be More of the Same Economist Yves Smith sighs, "His replacement is certain not to represent a change in philosophy. In fact, one of the ideas being mooted is to install an 'ambassador' to the business community because it is allegedly up in arms with Obama. Huh? The last thing Obama, who has been astonishingly accommodating to corporate interests, needs to do is signal weakness. But he has made the cardinal mistake of trying to please everyone and has succeeded in having no one happy with his policies."