Green Room

If Romney wins, who staffs his administration?

posted at 9:16 am on June 4, 2012 by

Politico reports on the possible Romney Administration:

[Mike] Leavitt, the former Utah governor and Health and Human Services Secretary under President George W. Bush, has been tapped to head Romney’s transition process and has quietly taken the first steps toward drawing up the blueprint for a new administration, according to multiple GOP sources.

As the point man for what is internally called “Project Ready,” Leavitt is stepping into a post that historically gets little attention during the campaign but becomes the focal point of a government-in-waiting beginning the day after the election. And already, plugged-in Republicans from Washington to Salt Lake City are buzzing that Leavitt could make his own transition next January into the job of White House chief of staff or as a Valerie Jarrett-like personal counselor to a President Romney.

***
The job traditionally is filled by political insiders who enjoy the trust of the candidate — Bush picked prep school friend and gubernatorial Chief of Staff Clay Johnson while Obama chose former CAP chief and former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta — and the selection always says something about the man aspiring to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

So what does Levitt’s key slot say about Romney?

Republicans who have worked with Leavitt describe him in almost eerily Romney-like terms — a hands-on executive who’s driven more by data than by ideology, a high-energy if vanilla technocrat who reads heavily in his spare time.

“He would make a great chief of staff in the White House,” said former Utah Sen. Robert Bennett, who served when Leavitt was in office. “He was a very pragmatic governor. He was not particularly ideological and I think the tea party folks would not be that happy with him. … He and I saw the world a lot alike. He can also be very tough.” (Emphasis added.)

Quite the endorsement, eh? Moreover, as Ben Domenech highlighted on Twitter, Leavitt is one handful of Republicans who supports Obamacare’s healthcare exchanges — because they are a cash cow for Leavitt’s private business. As Politico notes: “The size of his firm, Leavitt Partners, doubled in the year after the bill was signed as they won contracts to help states set up the exchanges funded by the legislation.”

Team Romney dismisses this last concern, despite the fact that the left will make hay out of it. Yet the situation goes beyond raising fresh concern that Romney is not fully committed to repealing Obamacare — and worse, what he might do if the law is not struck down or repealed in its entirety. It also throws into doubt Romney’s ostensible opposition to the sort of insider-dealing crony capitalism he supposedly finds so repugnant when it comes to firms like Solyndra.

The notion that personnel is policy is an old one, but no less true today. It is even more a truism for Republican administrations, because the career civil service has a vested interest in growing the government in both size and intrusiveness. As Reagan Education Secretary William J. Bennett has often joked, he felt like he stood at the ship’s wheel turning it from starboard to port all the while not realizing that the cables connecting the wheel with the rudder had been removed. Moreover, an outgoing Obama Administration would likely do all it could to “burrow” political appointees into career positions.

According to Politico, some conservatives, e.g., Grover Norquist, have nothing critical to say about Leavitt. But if conservatives and libertarians don’t want a rerun of George W. Bush’s big government conservatism, they will need to speak up now about who will be staffing a Romney Administration. I personally doubt that Romney would throw a close friend and non-ideological soulmate overboard, but Team Romney should at least be made aware Mitt is burning political capital before he’s been elected.

Recently in the Green Room:

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Give it up, Karl. Romney is the nominee. Please try not to be Obama’s useful idiot. Politico, seriously? What else can the Left-wing media make you believe? Leavitt will be in charge of managing the transition, period.

cicerone on June 4, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Give it up, Karl. Romney is the nominee. Please try not to be Obama’s useful idiot. Politico, seriously? What else can the Left-wing media make you believe? Leavitt will be in charge of managing the transition, period.

cicerone on June 4, 2012 at 10:02 AM

What? Karl writes a post about Romney’s personnel decisions and he’s a useful idiot? I love when Republicans refer to certain Democratic voting blocs as being ‘on the plantation’ when allegedly it’s taboo to question our own.

Hostile Gospel on June 4, 2012 at 10:13 AM

cicerone,

What do you think the person who manages the transition does? It staffs senior levels of the White House and the top tiers at the agencies.

Don’t worry; I’m not a useful idiot for anyone… including Mitt Romney.

Karl on June 4, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Don’t worry; I’m not a useful idiot for anyone… including Mitt Romney.

Karl on June 4, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Most of us know that.

There are a whole lot of ABR’s throwing bile grasping at straws these days.

cozmo on June 4, 2012 at 10:57 AM

I’d love to see him make Dennis Miller his press secretary.

CurtZHP on June 4, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Palin for Energy. No brainer

unless you’re a RINO that is

Eph on June 4, 2012 at 11:04 AM

Quite the endorsement, eh? Moreover, as Ben Domenech highlighted on Twitter, Leavitt is one handful of Republicans who supports Obamacare’s healthcare exchanges — because they are a cash cow for Leavitt’s private business.

I call a foul here. This suggests Leavitt only supports exchanges because he benefits financially. But Utah has had its own insurance exchange since 2005 – well prior to Obamacare. So clearly he has supported this concept for a long while now (and Utah’s version does seem to provide a valuable service to its citizens). The idea of voluntary exchanges is a good one, the problem with ObamaCare is they are mandated by federal dictat.

Buy Danish on June 4, 2012 at 11:12 AM

Mittens wasn’t a lot of people’s choice. But due to stumbles and gaffes and lack of funds as well as his great organizational skills, he’s what we have. And if he happens to be, ah, “flexible” when it comes to political winds, that’s fine, just give him a strong conservative Congress and he’ll adapt.

Just get the marxist out of the White House.

rbj on June 4, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Romney is Arnold with a nicer wife.

kringeesmom on June 4, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Romney is Arnold with a nicer wife.

kringeesmom on June 4, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Although Schwarzenegger sold out, he did initially try to get California’s spending under control. The unions and the Demonrats were too powerful for him. So he switched sides. While I want Obama to go, Romney in Massachusetts was always Liberal. I’m afraid we’ll be exchanging Obama for half an Obama. That’s better than what we’ve got, but it doesn’t leave me hopeful about America’s future.

Gladtobehere on June 4, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Correction: Utah’s Health Insurance Exchange was the result of legislation passed in 2008; Reform discussions began in 2005. However, I stand by my point that Leavitt does not support exchanges because of ObamaCare; He supports them because they provide a benefit to consumers. I see nothing wrong with these exchanges except that they are being forced on the states when they should be entirely voluntary. ObamaCare did present an immediate need for Leavitt’s expertise and he has been hired by states like N.M. to implement what is being forced on them at the federal level.

Buy Danish on June 4, 2012 at 12:11 PM

but Team Romney should at least be made aware Mitt is burning political capital before he’s been elected.

There’s already enough ash residue lying around from the burning for me to feel like calling ServPro on him, he needs to wake up. This is just politically dumb, the election isn’t over yet.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on June 4, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Correction: Utah’s Health Insurance Exchange was the result of legislation passed in 2008; Reform discussions began in 2005. However, I stand by my point that Leavitt does not support exchanges because of ObamaCare; He supports them because they provide a benefit to consumers. I see nothing wrong with these exchanges except that they are being forced on the states when they should be entirely voluntary. ObamaCare did present an immediate need for Leavitt’s expertise and he has been hired by states like N.M. to implement what is being forced on them at the federal level.

Buy Danish on June 4, 2012 at 12:11 PM

You are conveniently ignoring that Leavitt has a vested conflict now, whatever the historical path he took to get there might have been.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on June 4, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Buy Danish on June 4, 2012 at 12:11 PM

You might find Romney Appoints ObamaCare Supporter To Head His Transition Effort interesting. Leavitt, according to the article, likes the idea of the Health and Human Services Secretary having the unilateral power to reshape healthacare. As the French say, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Gladtobehere on June 4, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Leavitt has positives too, as Grover Norquist’s support indicates. But this one big red flag has me nervously pawing the ground all over again.

During the early primaries ROmney’s refusal to disavow RomneyCare, however he chose to word it, made me a supporter of anyone-but-Mitt. Once the voters made the decision to nominate Romney, though, and recognizing his repeated insistence that he would encourage, work for and actively support the end to ObamaCare, I swallowed my concerns.

This brings it all back to the fore. Romney cannot forget that he needs conservative voters to turn out in force. Indies are great, but they too support repeal. Do not screw around with us Mr. Romney– too much is at stake.

MTF on June 4, 2012 at 12:49 PM

You might find Romney Appoints ObamaCare Supporter To Head His Transition Effort interesting. Leavitt, according to the article, likes the idea of the Health and Human Services Secretary having the unilateral power to reshape healthacare. As the French say, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Gladtobehere on June 4, 2012 at 12:46 PM

The idea is tossed out there, but I don’t see any substantiation to that point at that link. Time and again I see support for the states to create exchanges, but that’s it.

Meanwhile, from WSJ link found in Domenech’s piece:

“This is a profoundly important time for the states,” said Mr. Leavitt. “States need to lead.”

The federal law gives the states until January 2014 to set up their own exchanges, with federal oversight. If they fail to do so, their citizens will get access to a federal exchange.

But some Republican governors have been reluctant. They oppose the federal law and say they hope it will be repealed by a Republican president in 2013.

Mr. Leavitt urged them to get moving anyway. If all 50 states move forward, they will compel the federal Department of Health and Human Services to give them the flexibility to tailor their exchanges to their state needs. If only 20 move forward, the other 30 will “give license” to HHS to be inflexible in designing regulations governing the exchanges.

This sounds perfectly reasonable to me. The states chose to ignore this and chose instead to stand en masse in opposition to Obama (which is fine) but the alternative Leavitt proposed also makes sense.

Meanwhile, if ObamaCare is overturned or repealed by a President Romney, Leavitt does not benefit except to the extent states may voluntarily choose to hire his company to implement exchanges. Indeed, if his personal financial gain is the issue, he benefits more from an second term of Obama which would continue to force the states into exchanges.

Buy Danish on June 4, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Meanwhile, if ObamaCare is overturned or repealed by a President Romney, Leavitt does not benefit except to the extent states may voluntarily choose to hire his company to implement exchanges. Indeed, if his personal financial gain is the issue, he benefits more from an second term of Obama which would continue to force the states into exchanges.

Buy Danish on June 4, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Translation: He stands to gain either way. If he is going to be part of a Romney WH I want to see him divest himself of any interest in the company before he takes such a position.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on June 4, 2012 at 2:07 PM

You might find Romney Appoints ObamaCare Supporter To Head His Transition Effort interesting. Leavitt, according to the article, likes the idea of the Health and Human Services Secretary having the unilateral power to reshape healthacare. As the French say, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Gladtobehere on June 4, 2012 at 12:46 PM

The idea is tossed out there, but I don’t see any substantiation to that point at that link. Time and again I see support for the states to create exchanges, but that’s it.

Buy Danish on June 4, 2012 at 1:52 PM

You didn’t read carefully, there’s a link to a second article, Senior Romney Health Adviser: Obamacare Can Move Health Care System In The Right Direction. The second article contains a direct quote from Modern Healthcare, which you can access after a free registration.

Again, I don’t want Obama to win, but having Romney is exchanging Obama for half an Obama.

Gladtobehere on June 4, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Gladtobehere on June 4, 2012 at 2:35 PM

The original link is to ThinkProgress, not my go-to source for information. Did you register? If you registered could you be so kind as to copy and paste the relevant paragraphs?

Buy Danish on June 4, 2012 at 2:44 PM

This brings it all back to the fore. Romney cannot forget that he needs conservative voters to turn out in force. Indies are great, but they too support repeal. Do not screw around with us Mr. Romney– too much is at stake.

The second Romney gets elected, he loses all need for conservative voters.

Then he will be guided by his inclinations, and those of his senior staff.

Romney isn’t a conservative, and from the looks of it he is not going to surround himself with conservatives.

If you think that team Romney is going to fight to overturn Obamacare after the election you are about to be sorely disappointed.

One hopes that the SC keeps this in mind when deciding on what to do with the law. At this point anything short of them getting rid of it in total guarantees it will stay on the books under either a President Romney or Obama.

18-1 on June 4, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Certain posts ARE KEY.
Most I don’t really know enough about aspirants to have positive opinions on (negative opinions on some, that is another story)

That said, Romney could do what Reagan did.
Find people who will do the job at hand as well as Ronald himself could dream of.

The only person, and task, That I can so imagine is going to make people here think I am a troll (I don’t think so)

Ron Paul for Sec. Treasury.

It works on so many levels
It reassures Tea Party and libertarians that there is a place at the table for smaller government types.

It puts the most vehement proponent of Fed oversight in the one seat that has ANY statutory oversight (even if parts have never been performed) over the Fed.

It puts an IRS critic in the one seat that can reign in the IRA IRS. (Remember the 16th Amendment “right” to ignore the bill of rights is not given to the IRS, but the Sec. Treasury and only delegated to the IRA IRS by a stroke of a pen, and can be limited or even undone by a stroke of another pen )

And as those positions are both Paul’s claimed principles and two of the four main planks I see in his campaign, I can’t see him blowing off the chance to accomplish two of his four to whine from outside about nothing done about any of the four. Not that I would trust him with anything to do with foreign policy OR the military.

Flame away.

jhnone on June 4, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Palin for Energy. No brainer

unless you’re a RINO that is

Eph on June 4, 2012 at 11:04 AM

Definitely!!!

But Romney could improve his chances by announcing some of his Cabinet picks prior to the election.

I would suggest:

Secretary of State: John Bolton

Secretary of Defense: David Petraeus

Secretary of Treasury: Mitch Daniels

Attorney General: Rudy Giuliani

Romney would probably do well by choosing his former primary rivals Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum for Cabinet posts, although I’m not sure where the best fit would be.

Interior Secretary and EPA Administrator would also be crucial picks, and Bobby Jindal would be a good fit for either of them, if he was willing to leave Baton Rouge for Washington…

Steve Z on June 4, 2012 at 4:21 PM

As said before. Newt Gingrich press secretary. I’d pay to watch

gerrym51 on June 4, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Secretary of State: John Bolton

Secretary of Defense: David Petraeus

Secretary of Treasury: Mitch Daniels

Attorney General: Rudy Giuliani

Steve Z on June 4, 2012 at 4:21 PM

+1 (along with Palin in Energy, although I don’t know she’d want the pay cut). Some have suggested Santorum for A.G. but his resume’ is very thin in that department. HHS would be a good fit for him but the left would have a coronary.

As said before. Newt Gingrich press secretary. I’d pay to watch
gerrym51 on June 4, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Yep.

Buy Danish on June 4, 2012 at 4:34 PM

If you look at Massachusetts Governor Romney and President Obama, you will find several identical people who they use. All you need to know why Romney does not rate any support. Same as the old!

astonerii on June 5, 2012 at 7:09 AM