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Progressive Groups Call for Former Univ. President Summers to be Removed as Biden Economic Advisor

As former University President Lawrence H. Summers informally advises former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s presidential campaign, progressive groups have called for his ouster.
As former University President Lawrence H. Summers informally advises former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s presidential campaign, progressive groups have called for his ouster. By Madeline R. Lear
By Jasper G. Goodman and Michelle G. Kurilla, Crimson Staff Writers

A pair of prominent progressive groups have called on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, to remove former University President Lawrence H. Summers as an economic advisor.

Bloomberg News reported Thursday that Summers, who served in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, was advising the Biden campaign on economic policy. Appearing on Bloomberg Television’s “Wall Street Week” Friday, Summers characterized his role with the campaign as informal.

“Oh, I wouldn’t over-read things,” Summers said. “The vice president and I have been friends for a long time and I’m one of many, many people who his campaign talks to, but I don’t have any formal relationship to his campaign.”

Summers, who is a University Professor, previously served as the director of the White House National Economic Council for Obama. He also worked as the 71st Secretary of the Treasury for Clinton, and as the chief economist of the World Bank.

The Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats, both of which endorsed United States Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) over Biden in the Democratic primary, released a petition Friday calling for Summers’s ouster.

“Joe Biden has a major trust gap that he must overcome with progressives and voters under 45 who voted overwhelmingly against him in the primary and who he’ll need to defeat Trump,” they wrote. “Larry Summers’ legacy is advocating for policies that contributed to the skyrocketing inequality and climate crisis we’re living with today.”

Summers did not respond to a request for comment.

The calls to remove Summers come as Biden is taking a leftward turn on some policy issues in a bid to win over progressives. Following Sanders’ departure from the race earlier this month, Biden rolled out a proposal to lower the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60. He also called for student debt forgiveness for middle- and low-income Americans who attended public colleges and universities, as well as Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Still, some groups like Harvard College Democrats for Bernie have declined to endorse Biden, citing the sexual assault allegation he faces from Tara Reade, a former staff member in his Senate office. Biden denies the claim.

Progressives have criticized Summers, claiming that his economic policies are too centrist for what Biden’s campaign has repeatedly said will be the most progressive presidential campaign in years.

—Staff writer Jasper G. Goodman can be reached at jasper.goodman@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jasper_Goodman.

—Staff writer Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at michelle.kurilla@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.

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PoliticsPolitical Groups2020 Election