FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2020
Collin Rees, collin [at] priceofoil.org
Brett Hartl, bretthartl [at] centeractionfund.org
Maria Langholz, langholzm [at] boldprogressives.org
Biden Campaign Urged to Ditch Larry Summers Over Anti-Environment, Anti-Worker Stances
WASHINGTON — More than two dozen leading progressive groups today urged Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to remove Larry Summers from any role in the campaign or a future Biden administration. The groups include the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats, MoveOn, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Working Families Party and Oil Change U.S.
Summers is reportedly advising Biden’s campaign on economic policy. Summers was a senior political advisor during the Clinton administration and director of President Obama’s National Economic Council, but he has consistently taken anti-worker, anti-environmental positions throughout his career.
As today’s letter explains: “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.”
“Summers won’t help the Biden administration build a just and green economy or address the dire threat of climate change,” said Brett Hartl, chief political strategist at the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund. “Summers only cares about the well-being of large corporations, polluters and the billionaire class.”
The letter notes Summers’ extensive record of steering the U.S. government toward failed “policies that prop up Wall Street at the expense of working people, from fighting efforts to regulate derivatives in the Clinton administration through mismanaging the fallout during the Great Recession.” His credibility, the letter says, is also tarnished by “horrendous comments about women lacking an intrinsic aptitude for math and science, his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, and known penchant for bullying.”
The organizations condemn Summers for contributing to the climate emergency on several fronts, including his support for constructing the Keystone XL pipeline and lifting the U.S. national crude oil export ban. Both measures are widely opposed by climate and environmental justice groups for endangering impacted communities’ health and increasing U.S. greenhouse gas pollution.
“Joe Biden has a major trust gap that he must overcome with voters under 45 who voted overwhelmingly against him in the primary and who he’ll need to defeat Trump,” said Alexandra Rojas, Executive Director of Justice Democrats and Evan Weber, Political Director of the Sunrise Movement. “Larry Summers’ legacy is advocating for policies that contributed to the skyrocketing inequality and climate crisis our generation is living with today. If Biden is serious about doing what’s right by young people — and frankly, if he’s serious about defeating Donald Trump — he’ll publicly reject Summers’ role as an economic advisor and say he’ll have no role in a Biden administration.”
“It is absolutely critical that Joe Biden win the presidency, and to inspire voters his campaign needs to show it is taking their interests to heart,” said Nick Berning of MoveOn. “Larry Summers used his influence in the last administration to block policies to help struggling homeowners while advancing policies that Wall Street off the hook —and that’s just part of his alarming record. The Biden campaign should prioritize personnel who represent people; it shouldn’t touch Summers with a 10-foot pole. This Wall Street trojan horse has no place in a Biden campaign or administration.”
“The only way for Biden to win is to mobilize and excite the progressive base, and that means real progressive representation on the ticket, and in the administration. If Biden announced key progressive personnel picks — for VP, Cabinet, and in transition leadership — it would go a long way towards building momentum and excitement for a Biden candidacy. In fact, it’s the only way he’ll win,” said PCCC spokesperson Maria Langholz. “Unfortunately, Larry Summers represents an outdated, business-as-usual politics that does not work for the majority of the American people but instead puts corporate interests first.”
“Summers made a career out of lending a patina of credibility to the priorities of the powerful and privileged,” said Working Families Party National Director Maurice Mitchell. “He’s sided with organized money over working people on climate change and holding Wall Street accountable. Just this year Summers carried water for billionaires with his baseless criticisms of the Warren-Sanders wealth tax. Biden, the Democratic Party, and America can do so much better than Larry Summers.”
“Larry Summers has spent decades pushing disastrous policies for working people and the planet,” said Collin Rees, Senior Campaigner at Oil Change U.S. “He’s already derailed progressive change in two Democratic administrations — allowing him access to a third in the midst of our economic and climate crises would be an unmitigated disaster. The Biden campaign needs to drop Summers ASAP.”