After a singularly humiliating several days, Donald Trump has unveiled another plan that is as vague as it is grandiose: a “SWAT team” led by Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, that will use business strategies to streamline government bureaucracy.
As the Washington Post reports, this team has been christened the White House Office of American Innovation and will be comprised entirely of individuals from the private sector—former business executives, for the most part. They will operate from the West Wing and report directly to Trump. And they’ll have their hands in a bit of everything.
“All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays,” Trump told the Post in a statement. “I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”
The Office is being touted as both untethered from ideology and from the quotidian mêlée of politics. Instead, Kushner promotes it as an ideas hub, “an offensive team” that works with people in and out of government and in tandem with “the business, philanthropic, and academic communities.”
“We should have excellence in government,” Kushner said from his West Wing office, during a Sunday interview. “The government should run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.”
Already the Office has met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Marc Benioff from Salesforce, and Elon Musk, the founder and chief executive of Tesla. Silicon Valley, despite being largely opposed to the Trump campaign, has indicated a willingness to cooperate.
Says Benioff, “I’m hopeful that Jared will be collaborative with our industry in moving this forward. When I talk to him, he does remind me of a lot of the young, scrappy entrepreneurs that I invest in their 30s.”
As for the aims and ambitions of this new team, they are wide-ranging. Via the Post:
“At least to start, the team plans to focus its attention on reimagining Veterans Affairs; modernizing the technology and data infrastructure of every federal department and agency, remodeling workforce-training programs; and developing ‘transformative projects’ under the banner of Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, such as providing broadband Internet service to every American.”
The office moreover will seek solutions for opioid abuse and may even determine the privatization of certain government functions.
For Kushner, this powerful position only extends the bloated influence he enjoys in the White House. He helps Trump develop both foreign and domestic policy and in personnel selection. He is also a “shadow diplomat” — that is to say, the head adviser when it comes to relations with China, Mexico, Canada, and the Middle East.
The rest of the team, as Kushner boasts, possesses no direct experience with government. And while his wife, Ivanka Trump, does not have an official role within the innovation office, she too works in the West Wing and will be involved.