Is Larry Summers leaving? Will Peter Orszag replace him?
The Atlantic's Joshua Green thinks Larry Summers is on his way out of the administration. That seems possible. Green also thinks Peter Orszag might replace Summers as head of the National Economic Council. I'm told that that's not going to happen. And I'm going to boldly speculate as to why.
Green's argument is that heading the OMB might be a more powerful job, but working in the West Wing assures you more face time with the president. But in this administration, physical proximity to the president hasn't necessarily been the key to influence. Take Green's terrific profile of Timothy Geithner. In it, Green argues that Geithner has become Obama's most consequential adviser. But that's happened while he's been in the Treasury building, and it's been at the expense of Summers, who's at the White House.
Geithner has won at least in part because he has actual power over crucial issues and an actual bureaucracy charged with implementing his policies. Orszag has that at OMB (as we've seen with health-care reform and the budget), but he wouldn't have that at NEC. Indeed, Green argues that Summers is leaving precisely because he lacks actual operational authority over, well, anything, so it's not really clear why the people who are in charge of things would want to exchange that for Summers's more frustrating and vague role as an adviser who isn't really in charge of anything. At least in this administration, being in charge of policy has been a more direct path to influence than being a voice on strategy.
Photo credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite.
April 7, 2010; 11:35 AM ET
Categories: Obama administration
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