William Daley, JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive. Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg
President Barack Obama is considering naming William Daley, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive and former U.S. Commerce secretary, to a high-level White House post, possibly as his chief of staff, people familiar with the matter said.
Such a move, which is still under discussion and which White House officials wouldn’t confirm, would bring a Washington veteran — and someone with strong business ties — into the administration as Obama enters the second half of his term. The president is faced with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and is trying to accelerate the U.S. economic recovery while addressing the budget deficit.
Daley, 62, who typically responds to questions, didn’t return two messages seeking comment left on his cell phone yesterday or a phone call to his office and an e-mail sent to him today. White House officials declined to discuss the matter.
“I’m not going to comment on personnel speculation,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbssaid in an e-mail.
As he remakes his staff at the midway point of his presidency, Obama also is seeking to address complaints from some executives that the Democratic administration is anti- business. Daley is JPMorgan’s Midwest chairman and the bank’s head of corporate responsibility.
Replacement for Summers
Among the pressing personnel decisions Obama must make is naming a successor to Lawrence Summers as head of the National Economic Council, which could come as early as this week.Gene Sperling, a counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, has emerged as the leading candidate for the post.
If selected, Sperling would be returning to the position he held for four years under PresidentBill Clinton, making him the longest-serving NEC director. While he doesn’t have strong ties to the business community or Summers’ standing as an economist, Sperling has played key roles crafting the administration’s economic policies, most recently in forging Obama’s compromise with Republican leaders to extend Bush-era income tax cuts.
If named as chief of staff, Daley would replace Pete Rouse, whom Obama selected to fill the role on an interim basis after Rahm Emanuel resigned Oct. 1 to pursue a bid for mayor of Chicago.
Rouse has indicated to administration officials that he is reluctant to serve in that job for the remainder of Obama’s presidency, according to a person familiar with the matter. Rouse also has signaled that he would stay as chief of staff if asked by the president, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private.
Rouse, who has worked for Obama since his days in the Senate, is conducting an internal review that covers personnel, policy and political strategy as the president contends with a new political landscape and gears up for his re-election bid less than two years from now. Obama is considering a number of staff changes. Senior adviser David Axelrod has said that he plans to leave in the coming months, and former campaign manager David Plouffe will join the administration.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Daley served as an Obama economic adviser. After the election, he was a co-chairman of Obama’s transition team.
Daley, the younger brother of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, was Commerce secretary during the second term of the Clinton administration, serving from January 1997 to June 2000. He was chairman of Vice President Al Gore’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2000.
After serving as president of SBC Communications for more than two years, he joined JPMorgan Chase in 2004.
While there, Daley has worked on some of the Midwest’s biggest takeovers. He advised Chicago’s Exelon Corp. on its unsuccessful 2004 proposal to buy Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. for $17.8 billion, and CBOT Holdings Inc., also based in Chicago, on its 2007 sale to CME Group Inc. for $11 billion, according to Corporate Control Alert, an industry newsletter.
Daley was a political mentor to Emanuel. The two worked together to get the union-opposedNorth American Free Trade Agreement passed in 1993. Emanuel was then a senior aide to Clinton, and Daley was a special counsel to the president.
The youngest of seven children born to longtime Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and Eleanor “Sis” Daley, William Daley is a member of Illinois’ most powerful political dynasty.
The administration has come under fire from the business community, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The nation’s biggest business lobbying group opposed Obama’s health-care and financial-regulatory overhauls and committed $75 million to political ads in the midterm congressional elections, mainly directed against Democrats.
Still, Obama is generating more optimism among corporate executives after a series of actions and overtures, including a deal to extend tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003, efforts to boost exports such as a U.S.-South Korea free-trade agreement, and a loosening of controls on some technology sales.
Obama met with 20 company executives on Dec. 15 in Washington and said afterward that he made “good progress” toward establishing closer cooperation between government and business to accelerate the economic recovery. The president has said private companies are crucial to the U.S. climbing out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.