President Barack Obama appointed Gene Sperling LAW ’85 to direct the National Economic Council Friday morning, ending weeks of speculation that University President Richard Levin would be appointed to the role.
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Obama announced Sperling’s appointment as part of a series of economic appointments made during a visit to a window manufacturing plant in Landover, MD. Though Levin was passed over for director of the NEC, a group of policy makers and the presidential cabinet, he is still a contender for another government post: The chairmanship of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, the 17-member commission of people in outside industries Obama appointed after his inauguration to provide additional economic advice, is open once current chair Paul Volcker steps down.
Levin has been under consideration to replace Volcker, who is finishing a two-year term. Unlike the office of NEC director, Levin would be able to serve as PERAB chair while working at Yale as University president.
Three members of PERAB hold Yale degrees, including the board’s chief economist, Austan Goolsbee ’91 GRD ’91. Founding dean of the Yale School of Management William H. Donaldson ’53 and Yale Chief Investment Officer David Swensen GRD ’80 also serve on the commission.
Levin declined to comment on his possible involvement with the NEC and PERAB since he was rumored to be a candidate for both organizations beginning in early December. He declined to comment about his candidacy again last Thursday.
Bloomberg News reported Jan. 6 that Obama plans to reconstitute PERAB when it expires Feb. 6. The board was originally established for two years, but with economic recovery efforts now underway, an anonymous source told Bloomberg that the board will focus on ensuring the country’s economic competitiveness.
In a statement Jan. 7, Levin praised Obama’s selection of Sperling for director of the NEC.
“Gene Sperling is a terrific choice as Director of the National Economic Council,” Levin said in the statement. “He has deep knowledge of economic policy and ideal experience for the task at hand.”
During his remarks Friday, Obama said he had selected Sperling for the role — which serves to coordinate and implement the President’s economic policies — in part because of Sperling’s previous experience.
“This is his second tour of duty heading up the NEC,” Obama said. “In his tenure in the Clinton administration during the late ’90s, he helped formulate the policies that contributed to turning deficits to surpluses and a time of prosperity and progress for American families in a sustained way.”
Sperling directed the NEC from 1996 to 2000 under President Bill Clinton LAW ’73 and now serves a counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.