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Obama top economic aide leaving at end of year

- The Washington Times - Friday, September 13, 2013

A key member of President Obama's economic team is set to leave by the end of the year, the White House announced Friday.

Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for economic policy, officially will step down on Jan. 1, 2014.

He's been a part of the administration for more than four years, having served at the Treasury Department from 2009 to 2011. He was appointed to his current post in January 2011, and has become one of the president's closest advisers on economic and fiscal issues.

"Gene understands better than anybody that our top priority as a nation is making sure that our economy once again works for working Americans," Mr. Obama said in a statement. "Gene's relentless worth 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."

Mr. Sperling gained notoriety earlier this year after a dust-up with veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.

Mr. Woodward publicly accused Mr. Sperling of "threatening" him during an email exchange discussing the reporter's coverage of sequestration. Once the email back-and-forth later was fully revealed, most observers saw it as a largely cordial exchange and concluded Mr. Woodward had blown the ordeal out of proportion.

Mr. Sperling will be replaced by Jeffrey Zients, who most recently served as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget from January 2012 to April 2013.

Mr. Zients has more than two decades' experience on the private sector, having served as CEO and chairman of The Advisory Board Company and chairman of the Corporate Executive Board.

"I am certain that in Jeff's hands we will continue to have strong leadership of our economic policy team," Mr. Obama said.

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