Monday, March 27, 2017

Kushner Starts Competing White House Think Tank

In January the Steve Bannon wing of the Trump White House started an internal think tank called the Strategic Initiatives Group (SAG).  Not to be outdone, the Jared Kushner wing of the White House is starting its own internal think tank-like entity called the White House Office of American Innovation (OAI).  Here is more from The Washington Post:
President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises — such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction — by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions.
The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, 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.
Kushner is positioning the new office as “an offensive team” — an aggressive, nonideological ideas factory capable of attracting top talent from both inside and outside of government, and serving as a conduit with the business, philanthropic and academic communities.

While some traditional think tankers may ultimately be involved in the discussions that the new think tank has, Kushner is touting the fact that most of the people involved in the new entity have little-to-no political experience.

The creation of the Strategic Initiatives Group and the Office of American Innovation shows that the White House is not willing to rely much on think tanks for policy ideas, even though some, such as the Heritage Foundation, have played a key role up to this point.