With President Barack Obama poised to select the next Federal Reserve chairman, the Japanese paper Nikkei cited unnamed sources saying he was about to tap Larry Summers, a former Clinton administration Treasury secretary and Harvard College president.
Summers would be a controversial selection, with many Democrats critical of his role in deregulating Wall Street that they say was a precursor to the economic collapse of five years ago.
Another potential Fed pick to replace outgoing chairman Ben Bernanke is his current vice-chair, Jessica Yellen. Yellen earned the support of 350 economists Wednesday, who penned a letter on her behalf to Obama.
The White House told Reuters the president had not yet picked anyone for the job, but the Nikkei said the pick is expected following a rate-setting meeting Tuesday and Wednesday.
The opposition to Summers isn't limited to Democrats. A top Republican lawmaker said Thursday he also has reservations.
"I do have some concerns with Larry Summers," said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., at a Bloomberg Government event. "That doesn't mean I might not in the end vote for him."
Summers is no stranger to controversy – he was heavily criticized for a speech he made while leading Harvard where he said the lack of women in science and engineering fields might be due to "different availability of aptitude."
Women's groups have rallied behind Yellen in response to their view of Summers as sexist.
"He's a sexist who isn't that good at his job," said Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women to Politico. "We are calling for the defeat of Larry Summers if he is the nominee. President Obama doesn't need to be reelected but quite a few Democrats in Congress do."
Obama goes into the pick from a diminished position since winning re-election in 2012. His approval ratings have steadily fallen thanks to scandals involving the Internal Revenue Service, Benghazi, domestic spying and the on-going crisis in Syria. The most recent Gallup survey shows 44 percent approval for Obama versus 47 percent disapproval. This makes it harder for him to press Congress into rubber-stamping whoever he selects.