- The Washington Times - Friday, January 7, 2011

In his second major staffing announcement of the week, President Obama on Friday said he’s tapping another former Clinton administration official to head his National Economic Council.

Former Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling, currently an aide to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, will replace Lawrence Summers, another Clinton White House alumnus who left the post in December to return to a teaching post at Harvard.

Mr. Obama delivered the news at Thompson Creek Manufacturing in Landover, Md., where he also addressed a new government report that showed national unemployment fell slightly to 9.4 percent in December.

“We know these numbers can bounce around from month to month, but the trend is clear,” he said. “We saw 12 straight months of private-sector job growth. That’s the first time that’s been true since 2006.”

In addition to Mr. Sperling, Mr. Obama announced three other appointments — Jason Furman as deputy director of the NEC, Katharine G. Abraham to the Council of Economic Advisers and Heather Higginbottom as deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget.

The personnel moves are part of an ongoing staff shakeup at the White House as it prepares to deal with resurgent Republicans in Congress and with Mr. Obama’s own approaching re-election bid. On Thursday, the president tapped banking executive William Daley, former secretary of commerce under President Clinton, to serve as his new chief of staff. Earlier in the week, longtime spokesman Robert Gibbs announced he plans to step down in early February to become an outside adviser to Mr. Obama.

No replacement for Mr. Gibbs has been named.