Daniel Doherty

Lawrence Summers, a former senior economic advisor to the Obama White House, President of Harvard University, and Secretary of Treasury under President Bill Clinton, formally withdrew his name for official consideration for the top job at the Federal Reserve on Sunday. USA Today reports:

In a letter to the president, Summers cited political obstacles in his path to Senate confirmation, had he been named by the president.

"I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interests of the Federal Reserve, the Administration, or ultimately, the interests of the nation's ongoing economic recovery,'' Summers wrote.

Summers faced opposition from within the president's own party because of his past role in financial deregulation and a leadership style that many find abrasive. At least four Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee, which would have to approve a nomination as Fed chair, had voiced opposition to Summers for the job.

Summers was long believed to be the president’s top choice for the job. But if nominated, he would have undoubtedly faced fierce opposition from many members of Congress, including some progressives. The president therefore accepted his withdrawal:

In a statement, President Barack Obama said he had accepted Summers' decision.

"Larry was a critical member of my team as we faced down the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and it was in no small part because of his expertise, wisdom and leadership that we wrestled the economy back to growth and made the kind of progress we are seeing today," Obama said. As director of the National Economic Council, Summers oversaw the administration's response to the economic and financial crisis early in Obama's first term.

Still, Summers faced opposition from some Democrats, including members of the Senate Banking Committee. As CBS News correspondent Bill Plante reports, critics faulted Smmers [sic] for an overbearing attitude, bad decisions on the economy and insensitivity to women.

Summers, of course, came under intense scrutiny in 2005 for making controversial comments about female scientists. This is one reason why feminists and women’s groups across the country reportedly protested his nomination. Instead, they are urging the president to tap Ms. Janet Yellen, whom many believe is the ideal choice:

Janet Yellen is once again the odds-on favorite to become the next chair of the Federal Reserve, now that Larry Summers has stepped out of the race.

Yellen, who currently serves as vice chair at the central bank, has already won support from key Senate Democrats and more than 450 economists, who have submitted letters urging President Obama to nominate her for the Fed's top job.

Up until Sunday evening, former Treasury Secretary Summers was thought to be the frontrunner for the position, partly due to his deep ties to the White House.

Ben Bernanke, the current Federal Reserve Chairman, will step down next January when his term expires.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography