via Times Online
Barack Obama defended his decision to pack his new Cabinet with veteran Washington insiders and former Clinton officials yesterday after a campaign in which he promised change.
The President-elect responded after naming the former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, a veteran of the Carter and Reagan Administrations, as the head of a new economic panel to stop “groupthink” infecting his inner circle of White House financial advisers.
There have been mounting concerns, particularly from the liberal wing of his Democratic Party, that Mr Obama has pivoted sharply to the centre-right with his choice of top Cabinet posts.
His main economic advisers have close ties to the Clinton White House and Mr Obama has already chosen Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State. His chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, once served Bill Clinton, and more appointments still to be announced will include a slew of officials who served in the most recent Democratic Administration.
“What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking,” Mr Obama said at his third press conference in as many days. He said he would be foolish, at such a “critical time in our history”, to pick people who “had no experience in Washington whatsoever”.
He added: “What I don’t want to do is somehow suggest that because you somehow served in the last [Clinton]administration you are barred from serving again.”
Mr Obama said he was forming an economic recovery advisory board, with Mr Volcker to head it, to give independent economic advice from outside the White House. “Sometimes policymaking in Washington can become a little bit too ingrown, a little bit too insular,” Mr Obama said. “The walls of the echo chamber can sometimes keep out fresh voices and new ways of thinking.” Continue reading