(Bloomberg News) The departure of White House Chief of Staff William Daley reflects President Barack Obama's choice to abandon a strategy of seeking accommodation with congressional Republicans and his critics in corporate America.
Daley's resignation a year after taking the job is a "not inevitable but logical consequence" of Obama's movement since September toward confrontation with Congress, said William Galston, who was a domestic policy adviser to former President Bill Clinton.
Jacob Lew, currently director of the Office of Management and Budget, will succeed Daley once he has completed work on the administration's fiscal 2013 budget proposal, due to be delivered to Congress during the first week of February.
Obama turned to Daley, a former JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive and U.S. commerce secretary, in January 2011 as the president sought to improve relations with U.S. businesses and congressional Republicans following the 2010 midterm elections in which Democrats lost their House majority and saw their margin in the Senate shrink.
He was a central player in Obama's failed attempt to reach a long-term budget deal with Republicans last July. The president's job approval ratings plunged after the August standoff on the debt ceiling that brought the nation to the brink of default. Congressional Democrats criticized Daley for concessions such as Medicare cuts the White House offered in its attempts to achieve a grand bargain.
Daley also took blame for a misstep in scheduling Obama's Sept. 8 address to a joint session of Congress to announce his jobs plan. Daley spoke by telephone with House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, prior to the White House's announcement of a speech and then Boehner publicly requested the speech be delayed a day.
After the $447 billion jobs bill was blocked in Congress, Obama changed course.
Going into the 2012 election, the president is seeking to portray himself as champion of middle-income Americans who is confronting Wall Street and an obstructionist Congress. He signaled his new message with a Dec. 6 address in Kansas, saying the nation is at "a make-or-break moment for the middle class."
The strategy that Daley was supposed to implement "had hit a wall," said Galston, now a governance analyst for the Brookings Institution in Washington. "The skill set and the relationships that he brought were much less applicable to the new White House political strategy."
Returning To Chicago
Daley, 63, informed the president of his decision to leave when he returned to Washington last week after the holidays. Obama said yesterday that he didn't immediately accept it, and he asked Daley to think it over. In the end, Daley said he wanted to return to his hometown of Chicago, where his family has dominated local politics for decades.