As Col. West wrote earlier today, there are still many key positions that have yet to be filled in the White House. In the Department of Defense for example, out of 53 presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed positions, only Gen. James Mattis is in place. The remaining 52 positions are being filled by a mixture of Obama holdovers and civil servants. That’s a helluva logjam.
Yes, there’s obstructionism by the Democrats in the Senate, but one just has to wonder, where are the priorities, and what’s occurring on a day-to-day basis? How is progress made if you don’t know who your boss is going to be or what the plan is?
From an outsider looking in, it certainly appears there’s institutional gridlock in the government and Donald Trump is looking to take a businessman’s approach to fixing it.
To do so he’s anointing his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to head up a new task force called the “White House Office of American Innovation,” reporting directly to the president.
According to the Washington Post, this new office will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements.
The innovation office has a particular focus on technology and data, and it is working with such titans as Apple chief executive Tim Cook, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff and Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk. The group has already hosted sessions with more than 100 such leaders and government officials.
Just an idle question…are any of those folks…um, conservatives? Yeah, no.
Kushner’s ambitions for what the new office can achieve are grand. At least to start, the team plans to focus its attention on reimagining Veterans Affairs; modernizing the technology and data infrastructure of every federal department and agency; remodeling workforce-training programs; and developing “transformative projects” under the banner of Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, such as providing broadband Internet service to every American.
Okay, we’re with you on the VA part — but isn’t there a secretary for that? What the heck is HE doing?
The office will also focus on combating opioid abuse, a regular emphasis for Trump on the campaign trail. The president later this week plans to announce an official drug commission devoted to the problem that will be chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). He has been working informally on the issue for several weeks with Kushner, despite reported tension between the two.
So, no one can argue opioid abuse is a problem which needs attention, but how about waste, fraud and abuse in all the existing programs? How about streamlining the way government works in general? Systems for procurement and vendor relations?
Does anyone else feel a little uncomfortable about keeping this all in the family?
[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]