Jeffrey Zients will serve as President Obama's new acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), but the president's decision might undercut attacks on Republican Mitt Romney's career as a venture capitalist, because Zients and Romney are both alumni of Bain & Company.
"I'm pleased to designate Jeff Zients to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Since day one, Jeff has demonstrated superb judgment and has provided sound advice on a whole host of issues," Obama said in a statement accompanying the announcement today. Zients previously served as Deputy Director of OMB under Jack Lew, who became Obama's chief of staff with the departure of Bill Daley.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney might also be pleased at Zients' promotion, given that they have a common professional background; Zients worked with Bain & Company as early as 1988, according to the Bain website. Romney worked at Bain & Company, first from 1977-1984, and then again from 1991 and 1992, when he was the Bain & Company chief executive officer.
The Bain name has become politically-charged recently with the rise of Mitt Romney -- not for his work as a Bain & Company executive, but rather his career at Bain Capital. Romney helped found Bain Capital with his Bain and Company colleagues in 1984, and he led the firm until 1990.
Update: Bain & Company says that Zients worked there from August 1988 to June 1990. Romney apparently returned to Bain & Company from Bain Capital in January 1991, so they missed each other by six months.
President Obama's top campaign strategist, David Axelrod, criticized Romney for having a "Bain mentality," just as some of Romney's Republican presidential election rivals have blamed him for layoffs that took place at companies that Bain Capital financed.
The White House emphasized Zients' "twenty years as a CEO, management consultant, and entrepreneur" when announcing his promotion, but did not mention that Zients' used to work with Bain & Company.