(Reuters) – Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, an academic and longtime economic aide to Democratic presidents, is among the people now advising Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Summers is a renowned economist with long ties to presidential administrations, including Barack Obama’s. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, served as Obama’s vice president. Summers is viewed critically by some liberals, who view his policy prescriptions as too centrist.
Dozens of economic and public health policy officials are briefing Biden ahead of the Nov. 3 election, when Republican President Donald Trump hopes to win a second term.
If he is elected, Biden would be faced with a U.S. economy scarred by a pandemic that has brought large segments to a standstill, forced more than 26 million people to seek unemployment benefits since March 21, and raised the prospect of job losses not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Before then, Biden has to bring together his own party behind his candidacy, including liberals who once backed Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The two senators have both endorsed Biden, but it is not clear how many of their supporters will turn out to vote for Biden.
A Biden adviser who asked not to be named said the campaign “is in touch with a very large and well-rounded informal network of experts” on the economy and public health.
“Joe Biden’s will be the most progressive agenda of any president in generations, and he looks forward to his continuing engagement with progressive leaders to build on his existing policies and further the bold goals driving his campaign,” the adviser said.
Summers did not respond to an email requesting comment on his advice for Biden or his role.
Summers ran Obama’s National Economic Council as the administration navigated a brutal recession following the 2008 global financial crisis. He was often on the other side of issues with Warren, who was a consumer protection advocate before she became a senator.
Summers was dogged by controversies including his support for banking deregulation in the 1990s when he ran the Treasury Department in the Clinton administration – blamed by some for the financial crisis – as well as for comments he made about women’s aptitude while president of Harvard. He ultimately withdrew his name from consideration to run the Federal Reserve after congressional Democrats including Warren pushed the White House to consider Janet Yellen instead.
More recently, Summers, who is currently a professor at Harvard, has been critical of proposals endorsed by Sanders and Warren, including a tax on wealth.
The news on Summers was first reported by Bloomberg News.
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Leslie Adler