Obama Taps Veteran Policymaker as Top Economic Adviser

VIDEO: Obama chooses a man with strong ties on Wall Street.

President Obama continued the makeover of his senior staff today with the appointment of top economic advisers who will oversee the administration's approach to job growth and recovery from the recession.

Obama named Treasury Department official Gene Sperling, a veteran economist and policymaker, to head the National Economic Council, a post he previously held in the Clinton administration.

Speaking at a window factory in Maryland, Obama hailed Sperling as an "extraordinary asset" with a proven track record of brokering bipartisan compromises on economic legislation.

"He's a public servant who has devoted his life to making this economy work and making it work specifically for middle class families," 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, 52, assumes the reins as the latest jobs report puts the nation's unemployment rate at 9.4 percent and notes one in five Americans are underemployed. He now faces the challenge of helping the administration make sufficient progress on job creation to convince voters that Obama's policies are working.

The latest round of appointments comes as part of a broader retooling inside the White House, which faces new political realities in Washington and a looming re-election campaign in 2012.

Obama appointed former commerce secretary Bill Daley as White House chief of staff Thursday, a move widely viewed as a centrist pick who will work well with Republicans.

The President will now focus on finding a replacement for outgoing press secretary Robert Gibbs, who is the most public face of the administration. Whoever Obama picks will help set the tone for negotiations with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and chart a course for advancing the administration's agenda.

Here's a closer look at who's out and who's in with the latest White House senior staff shake-up:

Larry Summers

Out: National Economic Council Director Larry Summers

Summers, Obama's top economic adviser, announced his departure from the White House in September, following the exit of two other economic advisers, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Dr. Christina Romer and Office of Management and Budget director, Peter Orszag.

Summers will return to Harvard University as a professor. "I'm looking forward to returning to Harvard to teach and write about the economic fundamentals of job creation and stable finance as well as the integration of rising and developing countries into the global system," Summers said in a statement.


Gene Sperling

Gene Sperling, Senior Counselor to Treasury Secretary

Sperling, a deficit hawk with close ties to the business and financial community, will replace Summers as the head of the National Economic Council and step into the spotlight and become the center of debate over how best to boost economic growth. Sperling was previously director of the council between 1996 and 2000, during Bill Clinton's second term.

Out: Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel

Emanuel, a former congressman from Illinois, had been unabashed about his desire to run for mayor of Chicago. So when longtime Mayor Richard Daley announced in September that he would not seek another term, the door opened for Emanuel's return to his hometown.

A recent Chicago Tribune poll shows Emanuel the early front-runner in the race.

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