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Everybody Hates Larry

Presence of divisive Summers cranks up tensions on Obama's economic team
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2009 7:58 AM CDT
Everybody Hates Larry
White House Economic Adviser Larry Summers, right, has a face to face conversation with Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., left, in the East Room of the White House.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

(Newser) – On his 54th birthday, Tim Geithner brought Larry Summers a cake, and the guest of honor ad-libbed some lyrics, bellowing, “for he’s an unpleasant fellow,” rather than “for he’s a jolly good fellow.” In the months since, his colleagues have wondered if he was actually joking, the New York Times reports. Tensions have been simmering around Summers as the argumentative National Economic Council director clashes with the president’s other economic advisers.

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Summers initially wanted Geithner's job and is now thought to be angling for Fed chairman. Two aides separately complained Summers turns meetings into “endless debates,” but he says that’s a good thing: “My approach in these things is to always be raising objections and concerns.” Geithner, a Summers protégé-turned-rival, agrees. "He is better than anybody else on the planet at framing the case for and against any particular issue,” he says. But he adds, "I am completely comfortable pushing back at him." (Read more Larry Summers stories.)

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