Matt Yglesias is right that the media -- myself included -- has done a crummy job introducing people to the work and thought of Gene Sperling, as opposed to scrutinizing the few areas of his background that seemed likely to create controversy:
Like [Sperling] or hate him, I just wish the past week’s worth of commentary on him hadn’t relied so heavily on “six degrees of Robert Rubin” versus “here’s a thinly sourced anecdote from the 1990s.” Sperling’s views on economic policy are not a state secret. He published a good book in 2005, or if you want a briefer precis of his views, you can read his 2007 article for Democracy.
He’s also published a lot of shorter stuff for CAP. You can read him on why the tax code is unfair to low-income Americans and should be made more progressive. Or about his proposal for a universal 401(k) program featuring “[g]enerous $2-to-$1 government matching contributions for initial savings of low-income families and $1-to-$1 matches for middle-income families … financed in a fiscally responsible manner” by avoiding estate tax repeal. Or here he is in the Washington Monthly talking about the need to go beyond unemployment Insurance and offer a comprehensive wage insurance program. Here’s some stuff he did for the Huffington Post.
I think that's dead-on, and I've been part of the problem, not the solution. So if you're interested in learning more about Sperling, follow some of Matt's links. Or go read the stuff he wrote for the Council on Foreign Relations encouraging global development by making basic education available to kids in poorer countries. Matt Miller has also released a previously unpublished, 5,300-word draft of a profile he wrote of Sperling for the New Republic in 1999. Sperling so impressed Miller -- who's a very sharp and critical guy -- that TNR killed the piece for being too positive. But you can read it here.
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