Chicagoization of the American Economy
December 17, 2008, 12:00 AM
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Political reporter Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic writes:

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.

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. 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. Additional staff appointments will follow; usually, the deputies in these offices aren't big names; the names being considered for the sub-department portfolios in the Obama administration would have been credible candidates for the top jobs themselves.

The bigger the federal government gets, the more important these offices become. They'll probably be THE powerhouse in the Obama White House from the perspective of politics, constituency relations, interest and client groups, the Washington community, state, local and tribal governments. Jarrett won't just pass messages between the outside world and the president. Her job will be manage the relationship between the outside world and the president, and, vitally, she and her staff will have the juice to make decisions about how the Obama administration relates to just about every external constituency.

No wonder Valerie Jarrett dropped out of the bidding for Blago's blessing. Who wants to be crummy U.S. Senator when you get to be fixer-in-chief for the new quasi-nationalized economy?

And how about having a Senior VP of La Raza stationed right at the chokehold?