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Jeffrey Zients is not an economist

Jeffrey Zients, back when he was acting director and deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget.

President Obama has a new top economic advisor, Jeffrey Zients. This new National Economic Council boss is not a longtime political insider or an economist, like the previous people to hold that post in the Obama administration. Zients is a management consultant and entrepreneur who made millions when he took his companies public. He’s perhaps best known as the guy the administration tapped him to fix the Healthcare.gov rollout disaster. He also ran the Office of Management and Budget.

So he’s not totally new to politics, but he’s not someone with deep Washington connections, like the man he’s replacing, Gene Sperling.

But that may not be an issue. Midterm elections are this year. Then after that, the Obama administration winds down, so it’s unlikely it could move ambitious legislation through Congress. Political observers see Zients serving as more of a salesman, selling the administration’s economic agenda, when indicators show an economy that’s not recovering as fast as everyone would like.

About the author

Mark Garrison is a reporter and substitute host for Marketplace, based in New York.

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