WASHINGTON -- Gene Sperling, a feisty defender of President Obama's economic policies, is leaving the White House after more than four years as a top advisor, officials said Friday.
He will be replaced as director of the president's National Economic Council by Jeffrey Zients, formerly the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Before his appointment to lead the NEC, Sperling served at the Treasury Department, where he helped shape the president’s policies on economic investment, housing recovery and tax code reform.
In a statement formally announcing Sperling's departure in January, Obama credited him with helping the country avoid "a second Great Depression."
"He has been a tireless proponent of efforts to strengthen the recovery and make our tax code more fair, whether in helping to design the payroll tax cut, fighting for job-creating tax credits for tens of millions of hardworking Americans or developing the American Jobs Act," Obama said.
The president also said that Sperling was "a driving force behind our manufacturing agenda and our efforts to attract jobs and investment to the United States."
The National Economic Council, which is made up of federal department and agency heads, advises the president on domestic and global economic policies.
A veteran of the Clinton administration, Sperling is the author of "The Pro-Growth Progressive," articulating his view that liberals should try to harness market forces in pursuit of progressive goals.
He is a familiar face for his many appearances on television news programs, doggedly defending Obama’s policies against conservative critics.
Zients has a background in business, founding an investment firm and serving as a CEO and chairman of two publicly traded companies. He was Obama's acting OMB director and also served as the country's first federal chief performance officer.
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