President Obama has finally selected the replacement for Larry Summers on his economic team, one that won’t make the Left happy — and one that won’t give much reason for cheer to the Right, either. Instead of picking either an academic or an experienced private-sector hand, Obama instead chose Washington insider Gene Sperling to run his economic policy team. While Sperling has done work on Wall Street for Goldman Sachs, it had less to do with economic growth than charitable work:
President Obama is set to name Gene Sperling as director of the National Economic Council, a move that would place a veteran policy and political player in the White House to work with a divided Congress.
The role would give Sperling broad oversight of the administration’s economic policies as the White House contends with near-double digit unemployment and looming legislative battles on the budget and deficit. His appointment comes amid a broader shake-up of Obama’s senior staff as the White House ramps up the president’s re-election campaign. …
Sperling, who advised President Bill Clinton and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, is perceived as the type of rare policy adviser who also has a deft touch communicating the message in a legislative and political environment.
Sperling’s ties to Goldman Sachs has Obama’s base uncomfortable, but Sperling was no Wall Street titan even in that role. He earned just under $900,000 in 2008 as a consultant not on investment but on corporate philanthropy. Goldman Sachs, which has deep connections to the Washington political structure, no doubt saw the former Clinton aide as a good person to know on the inside of the Beltway. Other than the short period of time consulting with GS, Sperling has been a policy wonk for Democrats since working for Mario Cuomo in the early 1990s.
With Obama promising a “singular focus” on job creation, why didn’t he look for an economic adviser with actual experience in creating jobs, rather than yet another academic or political insider for the NEC? CBS says that the White House found it too hard to find a CEO with experience in economics:
Some White House aides originally wanted Obama to name a business leader to the council job as a way to give the private sector a greater voice in the administration and ease the perception that the president is anti-business. But finding a CEO with economic credentials proved difficult and the White House thinking evolved over time.
It proved difficult, I imagine, to find a CEO with economic credentials who supports Obama’s rapid expansion of the regulatory regime as somehow being a “singular focus” on job creation. CEOs with or without “economic credentials” would be more likely to oppose the Obama policies on both economics and in the regulatory area as excessively burdensome to existing business and long-term investment. Instead of listening to someone who actually knows how to create jobs and adjust policies accordingly, Obama chose insularity — and continues to generate economic policy without having any real-world experience on board for reality checks.