Biden Taps Ex-Obama Adviser Sperling to Oversee Rescue Funds

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President Joe Biden selected Gene Sperling, a former White House economic adviser in the last two Democratic administrations, to oversee implementation of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law last week.

“Gene will be on the phone with mayors and governors -- red states, blue states, a source of constant communication, a source of guidance and support, and above all a source of accountability for all of us to get the job done,” Biden said Monday in remarks at the White House.

Sperling will work with the heads of the White House policy councils and leaders at federal agencies with the mission of quickly distributing the funds, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said earlier. He will also be responsible for ensuring the money is used to the best effect and partnering with state and local governments, according to an administration official.

The stimulus legislation that Biden signed on Thursday includes more than $410 billion of direct payments for most Americans, the third direct cash infusion in less than a year. The government began sending the first $1,400 payments on Friday, with some people expected to see the money within days via direct deposit.

Biden discusssed the implementation of the relief measure in an appearance at the White House on Monday afternoon. The president envisions Sperling’s role as similar to the one he himself took as vice president under President Barack Obama, helping to administer 2009 stimulus legislation passed in the wake of the financial crisis, Psaki said last week.

“They are looking for ways to maximize, of course, the impact of every dollar,” Psaki said. “That’s exactly what the president did when he served as the point person on the implementation of the Recovery Act in 2009, partnering with mayors, governors, and other officials to get help to them quickly and in a way that kept waste, fraud, and abuse to two-tenths of 1 percent.”

Sperling had been considered a potential candidate to lead the Office of Management and Budget after Neera Tanden withdrew her nomination amid concern over her tweets. His appointment as point person for the recovery legislation would appear to boost the chances of Shalanda Young, who Biden nominated as the agency’s deputy director and who since has earned the support of prominent Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus to take the top job.

Sperling came under fire during the Obama administration from progressives, who pointed to his earnings from firms like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and deregulation of the financial industry during Bill Clinton’s administration to argue that he was too cozy with Wall Street. But Sperling in recent years has worked closely with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and publicly rejected an argument from fellow Clinton alum Larry Summers that the Biden relief bill was too expensive.

Biden’s consideration of Sperling to oversee the relief law’s implementation was reported earlier by Politico.

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