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Senator says he wouldn't trust Fed candidate Summers to cut his lawn

August 21, 2013|By Jim Puzzanghera
  • Lawrence H. Summers speaks during a news conference at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong.
Lawrence H. Summers speaks during a news conference at the Asian Financial… (Jerome Favre / Bloomberg )

WASHINGTON -- Forget about cutting interest rates. A Republican senator said he wouldn't even let Lawrence H. Summers, a leading contender to replace Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, cut his lawn.

“I wouldn’t want Larry Summers to mow my yard,” Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas said during a panel discussion this week, according to an article on the Wichita Eagle website. “He’s terribly controversial and brusque, and I don’t think he works well with either side of the aisle, quite frankly."

Summers, who served as Treasury secretary during the Clinton administration and was the top economic aide to President Obama from 2009 into 2010, is considered a front-runner to replace Bernanke when his term as chairman ends in January.

QUIZ: How well do you understand the Fed stimulus?

The other front-runner is Fed Vice Chair Janet L. Yellen, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

With the Fed playing an unprecedented role in the economy, the selection of a new Fed chief has been unusually public in recent weeks. President Obama is expected to make a nomination in the fall.

Summers is known as a brilliant economist but has a reputation as being difficult to work with. His high-profile role in the Obama administration also could cause problems for his nomination with Senate Republicans.

Roberts made his comments Monday while participating in a panel with other lawmakers at the annual meeting of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Assn. in Wichita.

He said Yellen was more qualified than Summers.

“She’s very solid in how she approaches fiscal matters, the economy and the Fed, but you need a very strong leader and I’m not sure she has that capability,” Roberts said.

Roberts later told Politico that he wouldn't support her nomination either, out of concerns she would continue the Fed's easy-money policies, which many Republicans have criticized.

Roberts stuck with the lawn theme, saying he was “not putting Yellen yard signs out in Kansas.”

The Wall Street Journal's Marketwatch asked its readers who they would most prefer to mow their lawn. As of Wednesday afternoon, Yellen was ahead of Summers, 25% to 19% in the online poll.

But the clear favorite was Roberts, with 56%.


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