Clinton Insiders and Outsiders

December 12, 1992

After appointing five mainstream insiders to form his core economic team, President-elect Clinton has now added three activist outsiders to head key line agencies and a fourth to direct his Council of Economic Advisers. Liberals will be as happy with his second round of choices as conservatives were with his first.

Mr. Clinton is thus giving representation to the various elements in the diverse coalition that brought him to the presidency. Just as the appointment of three more women to his administration pleases his feminist supporters, so anticipated choices of African-Americans and Hispanics will probably go some distance satisfy minorities. His readiness to choose people who disagree with one another (and in some cases with him) is downright Rooseveltian, creating an ambiguity over which he will final arbiter.

Yesterday's line-agency appointments -- Robert Reich to Labor, Donna Shalala to Health and Human Services, Carol Browner to Environmental Protection (with Cabinet status) -- all had a very personal touch. Mr. Reich, a Harvard professor who advocates a big government role in the training of a skilled work force, was described by Mr. Clinton as "one of my closest friends for 24 years." Ms. Shalala, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin and Hillary Clinton's successor as head of the Children's Defense Fund, went right out front in noting how closely she has worked with the future First Lady. Ms. Browner, Florida's top environmental official, is a protege of Vice President-elect Al Gore and his personal pick for the job. She praised his "environmental sanity."

How Mr. Reich's job training goals, Ms. Shalala's management of health care financing and Ms. Browner's determination to create a more active and coherent EPA will mesh with the deficit-reduction preoccupations of the Clinton economic team should be one of Washington's more interesting political dramas in the years ahead.

The appointment of Laura D'Andrea Tyson, of the University of California, as the first woman to direct the White House Council of Economic Advisers, left some questions unanswered: Will her in-house think tank be downgraded by the creation of a new National Economic Council headed by Wall Streeter Robert Rubin? Will her advocacy of controversial trade policies, including "countervailing subsidies" to help U.S. industry compete abroad, prevail over the policy views of whoever is to be named U.S. trade representative?

That such issues will be sorted only with the passage of time seems to matter little to Governor Clinton. No "Arkansas mafia" comparable to the "Georgia mafia" that surrounded Jimmy Carter has come to Washington with this Southern governor. He is no provincial suddenly in the big time but a networker of long-standing with lines into government, business and academia.

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