TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Obama economic adviser leaving, successor picked

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 11:03 a.m.
 

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will replace Gene Sperling, his chief economic adviser and West Wing workaholic, with Jeffrey Zients, a top aide who has filled in as acting budget director and who led a White House effort to streamline government.

Zients would replace Sperling as director of Obama's National Economic Council, a post Sperling held for nearly three years, serving as Obama's economic whisperer during difficult fiscal wrangles with Congress. Sperling plans to leave Jan. 1

Obama announced the change Friday, describing Sperling as “one of my closest advisers and a close friend.” He praised Zients as an admired and respected aide in the White House with “a sterling reputation as a business leader.”

Zients is a long-time management consultant who joined the White House in 2009 as chief performance officer, heading an effort to streamline government and cut costs. Obama later chose him twice as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget and he has been considered for other top posts.

Sperling served in the same top economic post under President Bill Clinton. He's said to be leaving for personal reasons. His wife, a writer and producer, works in Los Angeles, and Sperling has been commuting between Washington and California. Before becoming director of the National Economic Council, Sperling worked at the Treasury Department advising then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner during the first two years of the Obama administration.

“Gene's relentless work ethic, sharp intellect and ability to work across the aisle have been instrumental in our efforts to build a better bargain for the middle class and reduce the deficit while also protecting the most vulnerable,” Obama said in a statement. “I want to thank Gene and his family for their service and I look forward to having his counsel for the rest of the year.”

Sperling was known for his long hours and for an ability to blend policy and politics with a negotiator's skill.

Upon hearing the news, Kenneth Baer, a former White House budget office official, posted on Twitter: “When Gene leaves the WH, will his workhorse of a coffee maker go to the Smithsonian?”

Zients joined the White House after 20 years of business experience as a chief executive, management consultant and entrepreneur. He was a founder and managing partner of the investment firm Portfolio Logic.

“ I am certain that in Jeff's hands we will continue to have strong leadership of our economic policy team and his advice will be critical as we keep moving this country forward and building an economy where everyone who works hard can get ahead,” Obama said.

The National Economic Council post does not require Senate confirmation. Obama's first director of the council was Larry Summers, a Harvard economist and now a leading contender to replace Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

In staying until Jan. 1, Sperling is assured of being one of Obama's chief economic advisers, along with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, during upcoming budget negotiations with Congress, including efforts to avoid a government shutdown Oct. 1 and to raise the nation's debt limit.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Global warming is slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences
  2. Fraternity’s racist chant among its traditions, University of Oklahoma finds
  3. Maryland might owe federal government millions for health care exchange
  4. Gun used by agent who helped jail Capone headed to museum
  5. Keep Gitmo prisoners swapped for Bergdahl out of fight, senator says
  6. Indiana governor defends religious objections bill signed into law
  7. Clinton wiped private email server ‘clean’
  8. Report: Prepare to drill for oil in Arctic
  9. Baby cut from Colo. mom-to-be didn’t live outside wombm, autopsy finds
  10. GOP budget proposal guts federal spending, health care
  11. American crash victims: U.S. government contractor, daughter