Gene Sperling

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Gene Sperling
Gene Sperling (National Economic Council).jpg
3rd and 9th Director of the National Economic Council
In office
January 20, 2011 – March 5, 2014
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byLarry Summers
Succeeded byJeff Zients
In office
December 12, 1996 – January 20, 2001
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byLaura Tyson
Succeeded byLarry Lindsey
Personal details
Born (1958-12-24) December 24, 1958 (age 61)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Allison Abner
EducationUniversity of Minnesota, Twin Cities (BA)
Yale University (JD)
University of Pennsylvania

Eugene B. "Gene" Sperling (born December 24, 1958) is an American economist, who was Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

The son of Doris and Lawrence Sperling, Sperling was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he attended both Pioneer High School and Community High School, from which he received his degree. He received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota in 1982, where he was Captain of the Men's Varsity Tennis Team,[2] and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1985, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Yale Law Journal.[3] After graduating from Yale Law School, he attended business school at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.[4]

Prior to joining the National Economic Council, Sperling served as Deputy Director of Economic Policy for the Presidential Transition and Economic Policy Director of the Clinton-Gore Presidential campaign. From 1990 to 1992, he was an economic advisor to Governor Mario Cuomo of New York.[5]


Clinton administration[edit]

Sperling served as Deputy Director (from 1993-1996) and then Director (from 1996-2001) of the National Economic Council during the Clinton administration. As deputy director from 1993-1996, Sperling helped design and pass several of President Clinton’s early initiatives, including 1993 Deficit Reduction Act,[5] the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit,[6] and the Direct Student Loan Act.[7]

As director from 1996-2001, Sperling was a principal negotiator of the 1997 bipartisan Balanced Budget Act, was the architect of the Save Social Security First debt reduction strategy, and co-negotiated the final China WTO agreement in Beijing in 1999 with United States Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky. He also played a leading role in the design and passage of other Clinton administration economic initiatives, including the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit, the New Markets Tax Credit, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Gear-UP Early College Mentoring program, expanded debt relief to poor nations, and stronger international protections against abusive child labor.[5][8] Sperling worked with then-Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers to negotiate protections for the Community Reinvestment Act in the Financial Modernization Act of 1999, also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. These protections helped secure passage of the bill.[9]

Post-Clinton administration[edit]

After leaving the National Economic Council, Sperling served as Founder and Director of the Center for Universal Education at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution.[10] He co-authored the book What Works in Girls’ Education: Evidence and Policies from the Developing World.[11] He also authored The Pro-Growth Progressive: An Economic Strategy for Shared Prosperity as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.[12] For four years, he was a consultant and part-time writer for the television series The West Wing.[13] Sperling is the author of the forthcoming 2020 book Economic Dignity,[14] based on his Atlantic article, "Economics is Broken," which was published in 2019.[15]

Sperling was the chief economic adviser for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign.[16][17]

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Sperling earned $887,727 from Goldman Sachs in 2008 for his work helping to create and implement their 10,000 Women initiative. He was also compensated $158,000 for speeches, mostly to financial companies. Sperling received $2.2 million in total compensation in 2008 from a variety of consulting jobs, board seats, speaking fees and fellowships.[18]

Obama administration[edit]

From 2009 to 2011, Sperling served as a counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He advised on financial crisis and auto rescue matters, and was Geithner's top aide on fiscal, budget, tax, Affordable Care Act, and small business issues.[19]

In January 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Sperling as the Director of the National Economic Council. In that role, Sperling played a key role representing the White House in budget negotiations with Congress as well as serving as the White House point person on several of the President’s top priorities including job creation, manufacturing policy, housing, GSE reform, skills initiatives and patent reform. He played a key role in designing the Small Business Jobs Act, the payroll tax cut, the extension of training assistance and the expansion of tax credits for low income working Americans.[20] He was the creator of the $447 billion American Jobs Act.[21] Sperling also led the design and implementation of the President’s initiatives on Manufacturing Innovation Hubs,[22] SelectUSA,[23] the College Opportunity Summit,[24] and the ConnectED initiative.[25]

Sperling was named one of the 100 Most Powerful People in Finance worldwide in 2013 by Worth Magazine.[26] He was named one of the 50 Most Powerful People in Washington by GQ in 2012.[27]

On February 27, 2013, Sperling was identified as the writer of an e-mail informing Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward "that he would regret" publishing a story critical of Obama's sequester.[28]

Sperling left the National Economic Council in March 2014.[29]


Sperling came under scrutiny for receiving up to $600,000 in unsecured, below market-rate loans from friend Howard Shapiro, a lawyer at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, while serving in the Obama administration.[30] Critics argued that this created a conflict of interest for Sperling, as he helped craft a federal and state government settlement negotiated by WilmerHale and other law firms over foreclosure and mortgage servicing abuses by major financial institutions.[30] Sperling told ProPublica he was not involved in the negotiations and only "helped decide that settlement money would go toward reducing principal on mortgages for borrowers whose homes were worth less than their mortgages", however the Financial Times reported that Sperling also met with groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to persuade them of the benefits the deal would have for borrowers.[30][31]

Sperling defended the loans by arguing that his savings were "depleted" after having "worked every single year of my career in either public service or in near-full time non-profit work."[30] He self-reported that his income in 2008 was $2.2 million, including $887,727 from Goldman Sachs.[32] The loans in question allowed Sperling to keep his $2 million house in Washington D.C.'s affluent Georgetown neighborhood, and Sperling said it helped him "afford to remain in public service."[30] The loan was approved by the White House Counsel’s office and the Office of Government Ethics, and Sperling has yet to repay it.[30][33]

Personal life[edit]

Sperling is married to television writer Allison Abner, whom he met when he was a consultant on NBC’s The West Wing. They have a daughter, Nina and a son, Miles[34]


  • Dellinger, Walter; Sperling, Gene B. (1989). "Abortion and the Supreme Court: The Retreat from Roe v. Wade". University of Pennsylvania Law Review. 138 (1): 83–118. doi:10.2307/3312180. JSTOR 3312180.
  • Herz, Barbara; Sperling, Gene B. (2004). What Works In Girls' Education: Evidence And Policies From The Developing World. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press. ISBN 978-0-87609-344-3.
  • Sperling, Gene B. (1985). "Judicial Right Declaration and Entrenched Discrimination". Yale Law Journal. 94 (7): 1741–1765. doi:10.2307/796220. JSTOR 796220.
  • ——— (2001). "Toward Universal Education: Making a Promise, and Keeping It". Foreign Affairs. 80 (5): 7–13. doi:10.2307/20050246. JSTOR 20050246.
  • ——— (2005). The Pro-Growth Progressive: An Economic Strategy for Shared Prosperity. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-3753-6.
  • Treanor, William Michael; Sperling, Gene B. (1993). "Prospective Overruling and the Revival of 'Unconstitutional' Statutes". Columbia Law Review. 93 (8): 1902–1955. doi:10.2307/1123007. JSTOR 1123007.


  1. ^ Montgomery, Lori; Dennis, Brady (January 7, 2011). "Obama names Sperling to head National Economic Council". Washington Post. Sperling is not an economist by training, he is valued as a savvy political strategist with proven ability to extract victories on fiscal issues from a hostile Congress.
  2. ^ Men's Tennis, Team Captains
  3. ^ The Yale Law Journal, Volume 94 Masthead, [1], January 1985.
  4. ^ White House Profile: Gene Sperling
  5. ^ a b c National Economic Council, Profile of Gene Sperling Archived 2017-01-08 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Huffington Post, Gene Sperling, Obama Economic Aide, Leaves White House
  7. ^ World Bank, Profile of Gene Sperling
  8. ^ Remarks by Mr. Juan Somavia, Advancing the Global campaign against child labour, May 17, 2000.
  9. ^ Wall Street Journal, Glass-Steagall Accord Reached After Last-Minute Deal Making, October 25, 1999.
  10. ^ Council on Foreign Relations Archived 2012-11-14 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Council on Foreign Relations, What Works in Girls' Education
  12. ^ Simon & Schuster, The Pro-Growth Progressive: An Economic Strategy for Shared Prosperity
  13. ^ Politico, Sperling on 'West Wing': 'Pretty realistic,' but don't walk as fast, March 13, 2013.
  14. ^ PenguinRandomHouse[2]
  15. ^ Atlantic[3]
  16. ^ A look at the Clinton economic plan Archived 2008-07-18 at the Wayback Machine , Kai Ryssdal interviews Gene Sperling, Marketplace, January 31, 2008
  17. ^ The Advisers Are Writing Our Future David Leonhardt, The New York Times, April 18, 2007.
  18. ^ Schmidt, Robert (October 14, 2009). "Geithner Aides Reaped Millions Working for Banks, Hedge Funds". Bloomberg. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  19. ^ Geithner, Timothy (2014). Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises. Crown Publishing Group, Random House. ISBN 9780804138598.
  20. ^ National Economic Council,[4].
  21. ^ Washington Post, Gene B. Sperling: Obama's Job Creator, Zachary A. Goldfarb, February 4, 2012.
  22. ^ Reuters, Obama manufacturing hubs face uphill struggle to create jobs, March 18, 2014.
  23. ^ The Wall Street Journal, U.S. to Redouble Efforts to Attract Foreign Direct Investment, October 21, 2013.
  24. ^ The Chronicle of Higher Education, White House Highlights How Groups Have Pledged to Improve Access, January 26, 2014.
  25. ^ National Economic Council,ConnectED: Delivering the Future of Learning September 10, 2013.
  26. ^ Worth,The Power 100: The 100 Most Powerful People in Finance Archived 2014-11-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  27. ^ GQ,The 50 Most Powerful People in Washington.
  28. ^; for a different take on the supposed "threat" see 1600 penned
  29. ^ Politico,Gene Sperling: Last day is March 5, February 19, 2014.
  30. ^ a b c d e f ProPublica,While in the White House, Economist Received Personal Loans From Top Washington Lawyer August 10, 2016.
  31. ^ Financial Times,White House Courts Support for Mortgage Pact February 8, 2012.
  32. ^ Bloomberg News,Geithner Aides Reaped Millions Working for Banks, Hedge Funds October 14, 2009.
  33. ^ ProPublica reporter Jesse Eisinger,Twitter, August 10. 2016.
  34. ^ The Daily Beast: "Democrats' Negotiator in Chief" by Lloyd Grove May 19, 2011

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Laura Tyson
Director of the National Economic Council
Succeeded by
Larry Lindsey
Preceded by
Larry Summers
Director of the National Economic Council
Succeeded by
Jeff Zients