Gene Sperling and 'regret'

Reuters

White House senior economic adviser Gene Sperling speaks at the 2011 Fiscal Summit on Solutions for America's future in Washington May 25, 2011.

The media universe is in a tizzy over the revelation that a White House official told Bob Woodward he would “regret” his coverage of the White House’s attempt to spin the sequestration debate. While I commend Bob Woodward’s coverage, which rings true given what my own Republican contacts have said, now that we know that Gene Sperling was the source for the quotation, and can read the email exchange, it is clear that the statement, while certainly regrettable, was not some ham-fisted attempt to intimidate Woodward.

I have known Gene Sperling for more than a decade, and interacted with him often. During 99 percent of our policy discussions, we have had opposing views, and I can remember him making the case to me that, “Kevin, you are wrong, and when you find out you are wrong, you are going to regret saying that.” It is his style of argument. As far as I can recall, I have never felt such regret, but I can say that Gene is an old-fashioned, honorable and generous man who speaks directly and truthfully. There are plenty of thugs in this town, but he is not one.

The fact is, the media is for the most part wildly biased in favor of this White House, but that is likely because many reporters covering the White House share the White House’s views, not because of scare tactics. The story that there is blatant intimidation going on will likely be fed by this exchange, but it should not be.

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Kevin A.
Hassett
  • Kevin A. Hassett is the State Farm James Q. Wilson Chair in American Politics and Culture at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is also a resident scholar and AEI's director of economic policy studies.



    Before joining AEI, Hassett was a senior economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and an associate professor of economics and finance at Columbia (University) Business School. He served as a policy consultant to the US Department of the Treasury during the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.

    Hassett has also been an economic adviser to presidential candidates since 2000, when he became the chief economic adviser to Senator John McCain during that year's presidential primaries. He served as an economic adviser to the George W. Bush 2004 presidential campaign, a senior economic adviser to the McCain 2008 presidential campaign, and an economic adviser to the Mitt Romney 2012 presidential campaign.

    Hassett is the author or editor of many books, among them "Rethinking Competitiveness" (2012), "Toward Fundamental Tax Reform" (2005), "Bubbleology: The New Science of Stock Market Winners and Losers" (2002), and "Inequality and Tax Policy" (2001). He is also a columnist for National Review and has written for Bloomberg.

    Hassett frequently appears on Bloomberg radio and TV, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, NPR, and "PBS NewsHour," among others. He is also often quoted by, and his opinion pieces have been published in, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

    Hassett has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in economics from Swarthmore College.

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