Biden Feels Heat From Left to Drop Larry Summers as an Adviser

(Bloomberg) -- More than two dozen progressive groups asked Joe Biden on Wednesday to remove former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers from his campaign and to promise not to include him in any future Biden administration.

The Working Families Party, Greenpeace and MoveOn are among the groups that signed a letter to Biden citing Summers’s record on economic policy and gender issues as reasons why he should not be on the presumptive Democratic nominee’s team.

In particular, the groups called Summers’s record on climate issues “abysmal,” pointing to his efforts during the Obama and Clinton administrations to slow efforts to curb carbon emissions and against using spending in the 2009 stimulus to build green infrastructure.

Summers is one of dozens of economic advisers to Biden’s campaign. He has no chief economist on his team and has not released a list of economic advisers.

“Summers has put the interests of large corporations ahead of working families in the United States and around the world, fueled the climate crisis, and undermined efforts to ensure gender equality. In short, it is hard to imagine a worse person than Larry Summers to guide the next president toward an economy that works for all,” the groups said in their letter.

Biden Feels Heat From Left to Drop Larry Summers as an Adviser

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but has said it is in touch with a “very large and well-rounded” group of informal advisers and “looks forward” to engaging with progressive leaders on the economy and other issues.

The groups ask that Biden “seek the advice of economists that put people first, recognize the need for social and environmental justice, support the large public investment we know will be needed for the energy transition, and have a proven record advancing an equitable economy that works for all.” They did not offer any names in the letter.

The Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund organized the letter which was also signed by the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats. Justice Democrats launched a petition against Summers’s role after Bloomberg News reported it, as well as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats backed Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary while the PCCC has close ties to Elizabeth Warren.

Summers was Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and now teaches at Harvard. He works as a commentator on Bloomberg Television and its “Wall Street Week” program.

Since Warren and Sanders dropped out of the Democratic race, Biden’s team has worked to build support from progressives and listen to their advice. Biden’s campaign wants to assuage suspicions that Biden is beholden to Wall Street, even as Biden continues to seek the donations, support and advice of people with Wall Street ties.

Besides his economic policy positions, the groups also mention Summers’s 2005 comments about women lacking the aptitude for math and science as well as his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, who Summers cultivated as a donor to Harvard University, when he was the school’s president.

“He lacks the integrity, judgment and temperament needed in a Biden administration,” the groups said.

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