Center for American Progress is moving its headquarters into the White House
The most influential think tank in Washington is getting a new address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Metaphorically speaking, of course. But The Center for American Progress has so many contributors, fellows, and staffers who already work there they may as well make it offical and change the address on their business cards.
This is especially true now that the founder and chairman of the board of CAP, John Podesta, is going to work for Obama.
President Obama, after a rocky year that leaves him at the lowest ebb of his presidency, is bringing into his White House circle the longtime Democratic strategist John D. Podesta, a former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton.
Mr. Podesta, who has agreed to serve as counselor for a year, led Mr. Obama's presidential transition in 2008 and has been an outside adviser since then. He also has occasionally criticized the administration, if gently, from his perch as the founder and former president of the Center for American Progress, a center-left public policy research group that has provided personnel and policy ideas to the administration.
Word that Mr. Podesta would for the first time join Mr. Obama's official staff, from people familiar with the discussions, comes as the president is seeking to recover public support and credibility after the flawed introduction in October of the insurance marketplaces that are a key part of his signature Affordable Care Act. This week he brought back his former chief congressional lobbyist, Phil Schiliro, who had moved to New Mexico, to help on the health care issues.
Mr. Podesta's recruitment, by Mr. Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, also comes as Mr. Obama faces a number of departures by close advisers in the coming months.
Among those exiting is his longtime confidant and troubleshooter Pete Rouse, who has been with Mr. Obama since the future president was elected a senator in 2004. For a few months in late 2010, Mr. Rouse was Mr. Obama's acting chief of staff.
Mr. Podesta will help Mr. McDonough on matters related to the health care law, administration organization and executive actions, said a person familiar with the plans, and will focus in particular on climate change issues, a personal priority of Mr. Podesta's.
The White House refused to confirm the recruitment of Mr. Podesta. The person familiar with the matter said Mr. Podesta would not be replacing Mr. Rouse, who is said to have a unique relationship with the president after their years together in the Senate, two presidential campaigns and the White House.
It's no secret that CAP has had a tremendous influence on policy in the administration. But there are several major staff positions occupied by former fellows at CAP who also drive the debate. Through their Progress Action Fund and blog Think Progress, the radical left has been well represented in Washington and in Democratic party circles around the country.