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Gene Sperling

January 7, 2011 by USA Post 

Gene Sperling, (AP) – President Barack Obama will appoint Gene Sperling as director of the National Economic Council on Friday, a move that places a veteran politician and political actor in the White House to work with a divided Congress.

The role will provide general oversight Sperling economic policies of the administration that the White House supports the quasi-double-digit unemployment and looming legislative battles over the budget and deficit. His appointment comes amid a broader reshuffle of senior officials of Obama as the White House ramps up campaign reelected president.

The White House confirmed Friday morning by appointment Sperling, who had been expected for days. Obama was to announce the new position of Sperling and other changes in the economic team later in the day when commenting on the economy.

Obama’s announcement coincides with a rare bright spot on the economic front: the December jobs report Friday morning showed the country’s unemployment rate fell to 9.4 percent, the lowest level since May 2009. That’s because more people found jobs, but also because some people have abandoned their job search.

Sperling, 52, currently senior adviser to the Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, will assume his new role as the White House seeks to accelerate recovery and to find an antidote to the numbers still sky high unemployment. This puts the center of a debate with the economic consequences for the country and the political implications for Obama when he seeks his reelection in 2012.

Sperling, who advised President Bill Clinton and 2004 Democratic presidential John Kerry is seen as the type of policy adviser who also has a rare skill to convey the message in a legislative and policy environment.

“This power becomes even greater when Congress is controlled by the opposition,” said Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research group with liberal tendencies.

The White House said Mr. Obama also appoint Katharine G. Abraham in his Council of Economic Advisers and Heather Higginbottom as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Both positions require Senate confirmation. Obama also will raise the economic adviser Jason Furman assistant to the president for economic policy.

Friday’s ads come as Obama mixes his senior officers after sweeping defeats for the president’s party during midterm elections:

- Obama named William Daley, a business leader first, as his chief of staff Thursday.

- Press Robert Gibbs leaves the White House next month to become a paid consultant to the Obama campaign re-election.

- Senior Advisor David Axelrod will head to Chicago next month to lead the re-election campaign, the campaign manager of former Obama, David Plouffe, fulfilling his role at the White House.

Sperling replace Lawrence Summers, who left the White House in late December to return to Harvard University after two years as director NEC.

Sperling, the appointment is a return to a familiar role. He served as deputy director under Clinton and NEC has been promoted to director in 1997. He played a key role in Bill 1993 for deficit reduction and compromise with a Republican-led Congress on the 1997 agreement the balanced budget.

Sperling pragmatism and her work as a consultant to Goldman Sachs Philanthropy, where he was paid more than $ 880,000 and has led some liberals to voice doubts about his appointment. He helped the investment bank to develop an initiative to provide education to businesswomen in developing countries. He also worked with actress Angelina Jolie to develop educational programs for children living in countries affected by conflict.

“It’s hard for me to believe that someone gives to 900,000 and you do not feel well disposed towards them,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research.

But Greenstein Sperling defended as advocate policies that help families with low and moderate income and especially children.

“This is not exactly what comes to mind when the label is thrown around it has links with Wall Street,” said Greenstein.

As an adviser to Mr. Geithner, Sperling worked closely with President and played a key role in budget negotiations and initiatives of the Small Business Administration. Administration officials say Sperling has made a strong impression on the president last month when he helped reach a compromise with Republican lawmakers on an agreement to extend the tax cuts of the Bush era for all employees income.

The selection process for the board dragged on for months. Summers announced his resignation in September, and many in the administration knew before he planned to return to Harvard.

Some aid from the White House originally wanted Obama to appoint a business manager employed by the Council as a means of giving the private sector a greater role in government and ease the perception that the president is anti-business. But finding a CEO with economic powers has proved difficult and the White House thinking has evolved over time.

Officials have become more inclined to find another job for a person appointed by the private sector while leaving the position at a policy board that would coordinate the heavy Obama receives advice from any administration.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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