As the government gets set to expand big time under the Obama administration, knowing the Washington game — how its played, who the players are — will be even more important that it normally is. The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder has a must-read on what to expect, and who you should know.
Here’s how he frames it:
Barack Obama has launched the era of the political economy, where, to an unprecedented degree, the White House will determine the course, structure and function of the American economy; where, if reports of $2 trillion worth of stimuli are to be believed, the size and scope of the federal government has the potential to nearly double over the course of eight years. He’s already shifted the paradigm’s default from private enterprise to public action. To the extent that your program or pet cause gets to share in the spoils, it must justify itself to the Obama administration.
So who can help you pick the lock?
Everyone who wants anything from the federal government has to interface with the now conjoined office of intergovernmental affairs and public liaison in the Obama White House. To head this office, Obama has appointed his best friend and most trusted counselor, Valerie Jarrett (pictured). Jarrett has appointed as her chief of staff Michael Strautmanis, one of the Obama family’s best friends and another trusted confidant. Traditionally, the intergovernmental affairs portfolio and the OPL portfolio have been kept separate, although Karl Rove unified them in the Bush White House.
Cecilia Munoz, a senior vice president at the National Council for La Raza, is a powerhouse who knows everyone in Washington. She’s going to be the formal director of intergovernmental affairs. Tina Tchen, another long-time Obama friend, will be the head of the office of public liaison.
As Ambinder goes onto explain, these are the real power players in the White House. Forget Geithner and Summer and all the brains. These are the people who make the nuts and bolts decisions about what gets Obama’s attention and what he can ignore. Now find your pointmen in Washington, and dig in. There’s trillions out there for the taking!