Saturday, November 11, 2017

Is Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers Going Over the Line By Smashing the Current Treasury Secretary?

Supporters of President Trump are outraged that former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is calling current Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin out as either an idiot or crony.

The New York Times writes:
 It is an unwritten rule that if a former Treasury secretary has nothing nice to say about one of his successors he does not say anything at all. But in the nation’s capital these days, the rules of political comity are meant to be broken.

Raising eyebrows in economic circles, Lawrence H. Summers, the mercurial Treasury secretary for President Bill Clinton, has
leveled a barrage of increasingly personal criticism at the current Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin.

In podcasts, blog posts, op-eds and on Twitter, Mr. Summers, the former president of Harvard and a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, has accused Mr. Mnuchin of damaging the credibility of Treasury by making “irresponsible” economic assessments of the administration’s tax plan and acting as a “sycophant” to President Trump....
“There is a range of estimates that a reasonable and thoughtful person could have and then there are estimates that if you have them you can really only have them if you were ignorant to the subject or if you were being motivated by politics,” Mr. Summers said of Mr. Mnuchin in a Politico podcast that aired on Wednesday. “And I’m afraid the claims of Secretary Mnuchin that this would generate so much economic growth that it would pay for itself falls into that category.”

He added: “I’m not aware of so irresponsible an estimate coming from a Treasury secretary in the last 50 years.”..
.Larry Kudlow, an economist who calls himself a friend of Mr. Mnuchin and who advised Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, said that he finds the tenor of the barbs thrown by Mr. Summers to be unwarranted.

“It’s unseemly for him,” said Mr. Kudlow, who considers himself an admirer of Mr. Summers’ work. “He’s like name calling, he’s making it personal, it’s very vitriolic.”
Of course, when a Treasury Secretary is making irresponsible economic claims, as Mnuchin is, it should be pointed out. Such commentary is not an ad hominem. It is a statement of facts, important policy facts, that should be in the arena of public discussion.

And by referencing that no such irresponsible estimates have come from a Treasury Secretary in 50 years, Summer's  is merely putting Mnuchin's absurd policy statements in perspective.

Go Larry!


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