Summers Move Lets Obama Alter Economic Team

Lawrence H. Summers, the chief architect of President Obama’s economic policy, will leave at the end of the year.

Money-RollsWASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House said that Lawrence H. Summers, the chief architect of President Obama’s economic policy, would leave at the end of the year, continuing an exodus of top-level advisers at a time when voters are expressing deep dissatisfaction with the president’s stewardship of the economy.

The White House says the departure has been long-planned; Mr. Summers, 55, said in a brief interview that he must return to his professorship at Harvard by January to keep his tenure. His departure gives Mr. Obama a chance to reshape his economics team after the midterm elections, when Republicans are expected to gain strength and possibly reclaim the majority in Congress.

A brusque and brilliant economist and one-time Harvard president, Mr. Summers directs the president’s National Economic Council, and runs Mr. Obama’s daily Oval Office briefings on the economy. He has guided the president through an extraordinarily tumultuous time, on matters ranging from the $787 billion economic stimulus package to the financial regulatory reform bill passed this year, to the current fight with Republicans about whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts.

“There’s a time and a place for everything. It’s been my plan long term,” to return to Cambridge, Mass., Mr. Summers said. As to the administration’s economic record, he said, “I think history will judge that a profound crisis that might not have been contained was contained.”

But with unemployment at 9.6 percent, Republicans have been sharply critical of Mr. Summers. In a recent speech, the House Republican leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, called for both Mr. Summers and Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, to be fired. Tuesday’s announcement came amid intense speculation about the future of both men; the White House confirmed Mr. Summers’s plans after Bloomberg News first reported them.

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Source: Sheryl Gay Stolberg | The New York Times