After two years of extraordinary stability, Joe Biden’s White House is finally getting a shakeup. As the president considers replacements for two top economic advisers — his new chief of staff has already been named — he should keep in mind the administration’s most pressing need: more technocrats.
With Republicans now controlling the House of Representatives, there aren’t going to be many new bills to sign over the next two years. In large part Biden’s legacy will be defined by the implementation of legislation that’s already passed. And by far the biggest question hanging over the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is how much of the stuff envisioned in those laws will actually get built.
Biden’s choice of Jeff Zients as chief of staff, replacing the famously politically savvy Ron Klain, is a good sign. It’s also encouraging that the top contender to replace Brian Deese, soon to depart as director of the National Economic Council, is Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard.
Zients is a mildly controversial pick among some Democrats because of his business background. But he stands out for the nature of his experience — never having worked on Capitol Hill or a major electoral campaign, he will be a very apolitical chief of staff even while working through what will presumably be a re-election campaign.
Zients’ public sector experience has been fundamentally technical. He joined Barack Obama’s White House with the gimmicky title of chief performance officer, charged with improving the efficiency of government operations. In 2013 he was tapped to help fix botched launch of the healthcare.gov website, leading a “tech surge” that addressed the problem. He also did a fairly low-key stint as head of the NEC during Obama’s final years in office.
Bloomberg should keep his mouth shut.
That’s why it’s written.
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