Thursday, December 4, 2014

Podesta Leads Obama’s Environmental Agenda and the Go-it-Alone Strategy

John Podesta
Photo: Reuters
John Podesta, who may be the second most influential person in the Obama administration after Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, has the environmental portfolio and most recently scored major coups with the power plant EPA standards and the Chinese global warming agreement. He also was the President’s spokesperson on the Keystone Pipeline, suggesting that a veto was likely even if the Senate managed to find sixty votes (they got 59).

Podesta’s most important contribution to the administration’s effort to remain relevant is using agencies, foreign policy and discretion (immigration) to operationalize Obama’s unrealized second term agenda and attempt to create a legacy.

The administration has public support on coal regulation, but it is out of alignment on the Keystone Pipeline. Most controversially, Podesta is leading the President into a major confrontation with public opinion on the use of his executive powers. Podesta, the consummate policy éminence grise (he may do a talk show or a special interest speech, but he generally stays well behind the President, secretary or agency head he’s guiding) may be producing a backlash from the overreach and is likely creating precedents for the next Republican administration.

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