Bringing President Donald Trump's notion of government as corporate enterprise to fruition, the White House on Monday announced that Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner will be leading a sweeping government overhaul, leaning on business leaders to solve pressing national issues while looking to privatize key government functions.
Trump and Kushner confirmed the move to the Washington Post, which described the new White House Office of American Innovation as a "SWAT team" of professionals with "little-to-no political experience" that will "help find efficiencies" within the federal government, while also reaching out to the private sector to determine what functions could be privately outsourced.
"We should have excellence in government," Kusher told the Post. "The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens."
The news that Kushner, the real estate heir married to Ivanka Trump, would be leading this enterprise prompted accusations of nepotism and kleptocracy. As many pointed out, Kushner has continued to amass power within the Trump administration, despite the fact that he has never held elected office nor has he been reviewed by the Senate for potential ethics violations.
In a column titled, "Donald Trump plans to make Jared Kushner America's unelected, unapproved, uncontrolled CEO," Daily Kos columnist and author Mark Sumner observed that while Trump "is anxious to destroy existing offices and departments, he's creating a brand new one, to be led by his 36-year-old son-in-law, a man who has never held elected office, never stood for Senate review, and who isn't screened out by nepotism laws because...no one knows why."
The Post also notes that the new position
represents an expansion of Kushner's already far-reaching influence. The 36-year-old former real estate and media executive will continue to wear many hats, driving foreign and domestic policy as well as decisions on presidential personnel. He also is a shadow diplomat, serving as Trump's lead adviser on relations with China, Mexico, Canada and the Middle East.
-bring peace to the mid east
-make it easier to find the end of packing tape
-make your exes call you back
— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) March 27, 2017
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What's more, the announcement was made the same day it was revealed that Kushner will be questioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee about meetings he arranged with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak, including "a previously unreported sit-down with the head of Russia's state-owned development bank," the New York Times reported, as part of the government probe into possible Russian election meddling.
Kushner's ambitions for his new office include "reimagining Veterans Affairs," modernizing the federal government's data infrastructure, "remodeling workforce-training programs," combating opioid abuse, and "developing 'transformative projects' under the banner of Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan, such as providing broadband Internet service to every American," according to the Post, which notes that "[i]n some cases, the office could direct that government functions be privatized, or that existing contracts be awarded to new bidders."
The so-called innovation office is also seen as advancing the "deconstruction of the administrative state" envisioned by Trump's chief strategist Steven Bannon, though the Post notes that the White House prefers to brand the effort as "an incubator of sleek transformation as opposed to deconstruction."
Creation of the office follows a recent executive order signed by President Trump which instructed agency heads to flag "unnecessary" programs within their departments to be slashed as part of a grand "reorganizing" scheme.
Kushner will lead a team of Wall Street and corporate alums that includes former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn; Chris Liddell, who served as chief financial officer for General Motors, Microsoft, and International Paper; real estate heir Reed Cordish; and Dina Powell, former Goldman Sachs executive and former adviser to George W. Bush, among others.
So a guy with no gov experience Kushner is going to lead a bunch of people with no gov experience & fix something they have no experience in
— Rogue POTUS Staffer (@RoguePOTUStaff) March 27, 2017
The group also boasts partnerships with Silicon Valley titans including Apple chief executive Tim Cook, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff, and Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk.