Spotlight Exclusives

Spotlight Advisor Rebecca Blank among Two New Appointees to Obama Administration

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In recent days, the White House announced two new exciting appointees to the Administration. President Obama has nominated Rebecca Blank to serve as the under secretary for economic affairs in the Department of Commerce and William Spriggs to serve as the assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Labor. Blank and Spriggs come with previous White House experience: both are Clinton Administration alumnae. More importantly, both are long-time and forceful proponents of cutting poverty and promoting opportunity. Two great choices for two key policy-making posts!

Rebecca Blank joined the Clinton team in 1997, serving as a member of the President۪s Council of Economic Advisers until 1999. Blank also was a member of the 1995 National Academy of Sciences panel which recommended a new approach to measuring poverty in America. More recently, she used her election as president of APPAM (for the non-wonks out there that۪s the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management) to make the best case we۪ve heard for overhauling the poverty measure. Check it out here. To be sure, her appointment would be a great triumph for advocates and policymakers who۪ve been campaigning for an updated federal poverty measure.

Blank is currently the Robert S. Kerr senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a member of the Spotlight Council of Advisors. Previously, she was Dean of the Gerald R. ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. She authored or edited dozens of important books and hundreds of articles almost all focused squarely on improving the economic well-being of low-income Americans. She۪s the real deal.

Fellow economist Bill Spriggs also was a Clinton Administration official, where he led the National Commission for Employment Policy from 1993 to 1994. Spriggs then left the White House and moved to the halls of Congress to serve as a senior economist on the Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee. In 1997, Spriggs returned to the Clinton Administration to work for the Department of Commerce. Currently the chair of the Department of Economics at Howard University, Spriggs۪ work has been critical to understanding how government policies affect low-income communities of color. Spriggs is a fierce and forceful proponent of reducing racial and ethnic disparities, as well as a respected researcher. A perfect choice to head up labor policy in an Obama/Biden Administration

OOTS believes that Blank and Spriggs will bring additional gravitas and passion to those within the Obama team pushing for the poor and disadvantaged. Jared Bernstein, Melody Barnes, Peter Orzag, Cecelia Munoz, and our other friends in the poverty community will soon be getting two invaluable allies.

Posted by Mike


Here at “Out of the Spotlight” we love rumors and gossip (at least of the non-malicious type), so if you hear names that you think we should pay attention to, drop us a line at either or We۪ll post new names as we get em! Of course, OOTS dishes on much more than who might be on the dream team. Check out “Out of the Spotlight” for our take on behind-the-scenes policy sparring, the twists and turns of political plans, and more. Contributions welcome!

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