President Obama’s top economic adviser has announced he will step down to mixed reaction by Missouri’s senators.
Senator McCaskill, a Democrat, sees no signs of a big shake-up with the decision of Lawrence Summers to step down as National Economic Council director in November to return to Harvard. She does see opportunity.
“But it does also give the president a chance to bring in some new voices and there’s nothing wrong with that,” McCaskill says. “Clearly, this has been a very difficult problem he inherited. He inherited an economy in free-fall. And while we’ve stopped the hemorrhaging and there are some really dim glimmers of sunshine on the horizon, there’s still obviously work to do.”
Three of the president’s top four economic advisers have decided to leave the White House. Summers served as Treasury secretary in the Clinton Administration. McCaskill points out that Summers initially agreed to join the Obama Administration for only one year to help the country dig out of the recession. He has stayed two, primarily to guide passage of an overhaul of the financial regulatory structure. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is the last remaining economic adviser to arrive with Obama when he began his presidency in January of 2009.
Budget director Peter Orszag left in July. Council of Economic Advisers chairwoman, Christina Romer, left earlier this month.
Senator Bond, a Republican, is glad to see Summers go.
“He’s leaving with unemployment still hovering around ten percent,” Bond says. “It’s clear that the president’s previous plan to give our nation’s economic reins to ivory tower scholars and professional government bureaucrats hasn’t worked.”
Bond hopes that President Obama seeks someone from the private sector to replace Summers.
“We don’t have anybody around the president who understands how the private sector works,” says Bond.
While disagreeing on the performance of Summers, Bond and McCaskill do agree that any new economic measures must concentrate on spurring the growth of small businesses. Congress has taken a step in that direction. It has passed the president’s small business incentive program, which provides easier credit and $12 billion in tax cuts for small businesses. The bill also creates a $30 billion fund to help small banks left out by the 2008 financial rescue package.