Last updated: January 8, 2009 - 10:02am
President-elect Barack Obama is assembling a new and influential cadre of counselors just steps from the Oval Office whose power to direct domestic policy will rival, if not exceed, the authority of his Cabinet. Presidents have long strived to centralize influence in the White House, often to the frustration of their Cabinet secretaries. But not since Richard M. Nixon tried to abolish the majority of his Cabinet has a president gone so far in attempting to build a West Wing-based clutch of advisers with a mandate to cut through -- or leapfrog -- the traditional bureaucracy. Obama's emerging "super-Cabinet" is intended to ensure that his domestic priorities -- health reform, the environment and urban affairs -- don't get mired in agency red tape or brushed aside by the ongoing economic meltdown and international crises. Half a dozen new White House positions have been filled by well-known leaders with experience navigating Washington turf wars. Top Obama advisers spent months studying the internal workings of previous administrations and came away convinced that high-priority issues require a White House coordinator akin to the national security adviser. White House veterans say the new posts are the clearest signal yet that the incoming president has no patience for the resistance to change that permeates the capital. But some see the potential for chaos within the administration.
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