A Conversation with Lawrence Summers

By Adam Reilly

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Feb. 22, 2012

BOSTON — You heard it from an expert economist: Lawrence Summers, who has served as the director of the National Economic Council for the Obama administration and the president of Harvard University, said on "Greater Boston" that there’s no question that the American economy is recovering.
 
Though the pace of the recovery is disappointing, he said, "We’re creating jobs; we’ve had nine consecutive quarters of positive growth; the number of people who got new unemployment benefits is lower than it’s lower than it’s been in three or four years this past week."
 
Moving to the political realm, Summers had tough words for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor has said that his experience as a businessman gives him the economic expertise that President Barack Obama lacks. Summers called that argument “naïve.”
 
"I think there’s a deep confusion in business leaders who think they can take the experience of their business to the national economy," he said. "Here’s what it is: A business can cut its way to profitability. A country can’t cut its way to economic success."
 
Beyond the economic question, Summers accused Romney and other Republicans of engaging in what he called an assault on reason. "It’s the same thing as people saying that global climate change doesn’t exist. It’s the same thing as people saying that cigarettes aren’t bad for people’s health. It’s the same thing as people saying that tax cuts will raise revenue," he said. "There are a set of things that are politically convenient to believe, where you really can’t find respected experts to agree, and therefore you have no choice but to go on the attack against the idea of respected experts."
 
Summers had high praise, however, for Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren, calling her a friend and a “force of nature.”


 

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