Joe Biden has chosen Gene Sperling, a senior economic adviser in the Clinton and Obama administrations, to oversee the implementation of his $1.9tn fiscal stimulus plan.
The US president’s decision highlights the pressure on the White House to efficiently roll out the sprawling spending package to help millions of US households and bolster the recovery.
Sperling’s appointment was confirmed by an administration official ahead of remarks on Monday by Biden about the implementation of the rescue plan. The president signed the stimulus bill on Thursday and is preparing to travel this week to Pennsylvania and Georgia to tout its benefits.
“Gene will work with the heads of the White House policy councils and key leaders at federal agencies so we can get funds out the door quickly, maximise its impact and accelerate the work the administration is doing to crush Covid-19 and rescue our economy,” the Biden administration official said.
“There’s no one who knows how the federal government works better than Gene Sperling.”
Sperling, 62, is well known to Biden. He was a close adviser to Tim Geithner, Treasury secretary in the Obama administration, and then served as director of the National Economic Council at a time of tense negotiations with Republicans in Congress on budgetary issues, including the raising of the US debt limit. Sperling was also NEC director under Bill Clinton.
In between his two stints at the White House, Sperling worked as an advocate for universal education and a consultant for the West Wing television series.
Sperling’s appointment was first reported by Politico.
The stimulus bill contains myriad measures to help prop up the US economy, including: $1,400 per person payments to Americans earning up to $75,000 per year; an expansion of the child tax credit; an extension of unemployment benefits until September; and aid to states, municipalities and certain hard-hit businesses such as independent restaurants.
The smooth delivery of the aid will be critical to ensuring that the stimulus bill matches the optimistic forecasts by economists about US growth in 2021. But it will also be important politically for Biden to fend off attacks on the relief plan from Republican lawmakers, who opposed the legislation.
Biden was chosen by Barack Obama early in his own administration to watch over his first stimulus bill worth $787bn in the midst of the financial crisis.
Sperling advised Biden on economic policy during the 2020 election campaign. He was already considered as a possible choice to be budget director after Neera Tanden, the president’s first option, was forced to withdraw after failing to garner enough support in the Senate.