Larry Summers, the Director of the National Economic Council, used his luncheon speech at today’s Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Outlook Conference to lay out a compelling case for comprehensive energy and climate legislation. The text of his remarks should be posted on the conference website soon and will be worth a read as he […]
There was a time (er, last week) when I was mocked for lamenting the influence of Obama's top economic advisers on climate policy. I still think I'll have the last laugh. Or cry, as the case may be.
This is from a story by David Cho, just out in the Washington Post, about the extraordinary influence of Summers and Geithner in the administration:
The influence of their partnership was also evident during the battle over the budget, which began weeks before Obama was sworn into office.
Meeting in January on the eighth floor of the transition team's office in downtown Washington, Geithner pressed the incoming president to commit to cutting the deficit to 3 percent of the economy over the next five years, which would keep the nation's debt roughly in line with normal economic growth. Summers quickly backed him.
Some, including economist Jared Bernstein, resisted, saying that such a strict limit would make it more difficult to confront the many challenges ahead and that the size of the government's emergency response to the economy and financial markets would make the cap tough to maintain.
In February, the entire economic team convened in the windowless Roosevelt Room in the White House. Obama abruptly ended the debate. Geithner and Summers would have their way.
"The two of them being together ended up being pretty decisive for President Obama," an administration official said.
Rubinite deficit hawkery is back! Super. Atrios dryly notes:
Jared Bernstein's the crazy liberal who might want to spend a few bucks on social programs. Meanwhile Larry and Tim are shoveling cash into the Banksters' pockets as fast as they can. But, you know, they're the ones who are "serious" about the deficit.
Summers, you'll recall, was credited with reducing the amount of infrastructure spending in the stimulus bill. Here's what Bernstein had to say [PDF] before Congress last year, arguing for substantially higher infrastructure spending:
Obama’s green team Joe Romm says, “I honestly don’t know if it is politically possible to preserve a livable climate — but if it is, these are the people to make it happen.” I don’t know if I’d go that far, but Obama has certainly put together a team capable of great things. Coordinating is […]
Last week John Broder wrote in The New York Times about contrasting views on climate policy among two top Obama administration officials: economic team leader Larry Summers, who favors "safety valves," slow phase-ins, and caution, and climate/energy
czarempress Carol Browner, who favors strict carbon restrictions, quickly implemented.
(Broder's article was irksome, by the way. At no point did he see fit to mention that the reason Browner and "environmentalists" favor stiffer carbon restrictions is not that they don't care about costs but that they disagree about costs. The casual reader is left with the impression that economists and other Very Serious people have to do a "reality check" for la-la-land greens who don't care about money or working people. Have we learned nothing from our experience with previous environmental regs? Why is historically ungrounded pessimism the same as "realism"? Grr. Wait, where was I?)
Anyway, one wouldn't want to make too much of this, but it seems like a good sign that earlier today when Obama met with his economic team, Browner was in the room.
Perhaps this is a signal that environmental policy gets a seat at the big kid's table and doesn't get filed under do-gooderism. Maybe we can't persuade the economists to take efficiency or innovation seriously, but at least someone representing an optimistic assessment of costs will be around to temper all the pessimism. Let's hope Summers takes her seriously despite her gender.