Circle of Trust

Article excerpt

Byline: Ezra Klein

Obama needs some new blood.

First Peter Orszag turned in his ID card. Then Christina Romer went. In short order, Larry Summers and Rahm Emanuel announced their exits. Jim Jones is gone, too. There are a lot of empty desks in the White House these days.

But that leaves room for new people to fill them. So far, President Obama has hired mostly from within. That's a sign he's happy with the advice he's received. And in many ways, he's right to be. This administration entered office with the economy teetering on the edge of the abyss. His team has successfully pulled us onto firmer ground.

The next two years, however, will see resurgent Republicans and new problems--not to mention continued slow growth. For that, the administration needs a new agenda, and new ideas. To get them, here are four candidates the White House should hire. (Disclaimer: I didn't tell these people I'd be mentioning them, and I'm not close with any of them. This is about their ideas, not their personalities.)

Karen Kornbluh

In a previous life, Kornbluh was Senator Obama's policy director. Now she's serving as ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It's not exactly hard time; she gets a house in Paris. But Obama needs to call her back.

The administration has done important work expanding and strengthening the safety net. Now they need to turn to the focus of Kornbluh's work: modernizing it. Our safety net was developed in an age when men were the breadwinners, women stayed home to raise children, single-parent families were rare, and workers tended to stick with a single employer for decades. Now it needs to be updated for a world where families are dependent on two incomes, have less job stability, and need time off from work to care for sick parents and young children. Kornbluh is the right pick to lead that effort.

Mark McClellan

McClellan led the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for George W. Bush. He was instrumental in implementing the Medicare prescription-drug benefit. That gives him two things the administration needs: credibility with Republicans on health care and experience making a major health-care initiative work.

McClellan has been a cautious friend and frequent critic of Obama's health-care initiatives. …