In his press conference yesterday, President Obama explained why it appeared he might be favoring Larry Summers as the next Fed chairman, while leaving the door open for Janet Yellen to be his choice. His argument tells me that Janet Yellen is the only choice he should be making. There are many reasons for this that transcend Larry Summers' sexist attitudes, and if President Obama is serious about what he says about women, this shouldn't even be an issue. After all, the President himself said that Summers and Yellen are equally qualified candidates.
But I consider them both outstanding candidates. My main criteria -- I’ve stated this before, but I want to repeat it -- my main criteria for the Fed Reserve chairman is somebody who understands they’ve got a dual mandate. A critical part of the job is making sure that we keep inflation in check, that our monetary policy is sound, that the dollar is sound. Those are all critical components of the job. And we’ve seen what happens when the Fed is not paying attention. We saw, prior to Paul Volcker coming into place, inflation shooting up in ways that really damaged the real economy.
But the other mandate is full employment. And right now, if you look at the biggest challenges we have, the challenge is not inflation; the challenge is we’ve still got too many people out of work, too many long-term unemployed, too much slack in the economy, and we’re not growing as fast as we should. And so I want a Fed chairman who’s able to look at those issues and have a perspective that keeps an eye on inflation, makes sure that we’re not seeing artificial bubbles in place, but also recognizing, you know what, a big part of my job right now is to make sure the economy is growing quickly and robustly, and is sustained and durable, so that people who work hard in this country are able to find a job.
Let me help you with this, Mr. President. Here are a few million reasons for considering the equally qualified candidate who is not Larry Summers.
There are 158.3 million women in this country. Median earnings for women in this country is 77% of what men earn. It's not just about full employment, after all. It's about full employment for a working wage.
Women hear this all the time when it comes to employment and promotions. Yes, you were equally qualified but we went with the man. It's never enough to be equal. We always have to outperform that dude over there in order to get the same job for less pay.
You campaigned as a man who understood women's issues. This is one of our key issues right here. Setting aside Larry Summers' blatant sexism and ancient attitudes toward women, let's just break the rule about giving the edge to men and hire the woman for a change. Janet Yellen is second in command, surely understands the mandates and the issues and is also capable of actually seeing through a lens where women matter just as much.
Appointing Larry Summers is an incredibly tone-deaf thing to do. Put your appointments where your mouth is, Mr. President, and appoint Janet Yellen. It's past time for a highly qualified woman who is equal to the male candidate to actually get the job.
Be bold. Just do it.