Sat, Jan 08, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Obama names Daley as chief of staff

SHUFFLE:The corporate world is hoping the executive’s appointment will go some way to improving communications between the White House and the -business community

Reuters, WASHINGTON

US President Barack Obama on Thursday named JPMorgan Chase executive William Daley as his chief of staff, bringing a politically seasoned businessman into the White House to help trigger job growth as he grapples with a resurgent Republican party.

Obama said he hoped Daley would help energize the US economy. Reducing the country’s 9.8 percent unemployment rate is Obama’s biggest challenge ahead of his 2012 re-election bid.

“He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy,” Obama said at the White House.

Daley, 62, whose appointment was welcomed by the US business community, was former president Bill Clinton’s commerce secretary and campaign manager for former vice president Al Gore in his 2000 presidential campaign.

By picking Daley to lead White House efforts to carry out his agenda, Obama brings in a manager who was not part of his original inner circle and has deep experience in both business and government.

“This team will not let you down, or the nation,” Daley said.

After leaving the Clinton administration, Daley was president of SBC Communications and more recently he had has been responsible for operations in the Midwest for JPMorgan Chase.

Obama had been urged by some Democratic officials to bring in fresh thinking in response to the Republican rout of Democrats in the Nov. 3 congressional elections.

Obama joked that Daley has a “smidgen of awareness” of how the US political system works.

Current chief of staff Pete Rouse, a long-time Obama adviser who relishes a behind-the-scenes role, is being moved to the senior advisory position of counselor to the president.

William Galston, an economist who was a domestic policy adviser to Clinton, said Daley should help Obama repair frayed relations with the US business community, which has complained that Obama’s policies hurt job creation.

“He has excellent connections with the business community and I think will be a very credible and reassuring bridge to them as the Obama administration tries to reset relations with them,” Galston said.

“This is a strong appointment,” president of the Chamber of Commerce Thomas Donohue said, head of a lobby group that says it represents more than 3 million businesses. “Bill Daley is a man of stature and extraordinary experience in government, business, trade negotiations, and global affairs.”

The choice draws on Obama’s Chicago background. Daley is the brother of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and son of Richard J. Daley, the city’s mayor from 1955 through 1976.

Daley’s selection, along with the expected naming of Treasury official Gene Sperling as a senior economic adviser, would mean a return to the White House of experienced hands from their days working for Clinton, who presided over a growing economy in the 1990s.

Obama is reshaping his White House staff to prepare for the next two years of divided government — with Republicans now in control of the US House of Representatives — and lay the groundwork for his re-election campaign.

Daley was involved in Clinton’s tough negotiations over the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which was opposed by organized labor and many Democrats, and China’s effort to gain most-favored-nation trading status.

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said Obama is entitled to choose a chief of staff in whom he has complete confidence but will “ultimately be judged by results — whether the economy recovers robustly and begins to generate good jobs on the scale needed to improve the lives of working people.”

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