President-Elect Biden Chooses Ron Klain for Chief of Staff
By Ty Brown
The first major personnel choice of the Biden transition is Ron Klain for White House Chief of Staff. Klain is a long time Biden advisor and served as his chief of staff when he was vice president after serving in the same role under Vice President Gore. Klain served as the White House Ebola Response Coordinator for the Obama Administration’s effort to contain Ebola in West Africa, giving him experience which the Biden transition team has chosen to highlight during the current pandemic.
The Biden administration will take office between two new crises: uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus and the resulting economic fallout. Klain’s experience during the Obama administration put him at the forefront of the two of the most comparable recent crises, the Ebola outbreak and the 2009 financial crisis. Klain oversaw the Obama Administration’s stimulus in the response to the 2009 financial crisis, where he gained experience balancing politics with the need to have an expansive stimulus. This is similar to the difficulties that a Senate with either a narrow Republican majority or a 50-seat Democratic majority will almost certainly impose on the incoming Biden administration. Biden wants a new, larger stimulus filled with Democratic priorities, which will require a skilled political operation to pass and implement.
Ron Klain’s qualifications to help the President-Elect take on the second of those crises, the coronavirus pandemic, are bolstered by his time as the Obama administration’s Ebola czar. Klain received the position because of his experience in government and management, rather than specific expertise in public health. The White House Press Secretary at the time stated, “What we were looking for is not an Ebola expert but rather an implementation expert, and that’s exactly what Ron Klain is.” In a country with the need for more testing infrastructure and a vaccine rollout that will begin to ramp up right as the new administration is scheduled to take office, that experience in implementing public health policy is extremely important.
Klain was immediately praised by Senator Warren and Representative Ocasio-Cortez on the left, with Warren describing him as having “earned trust all across the entire Democratic Party”. For any progressives worried that Biden would tack hard to the center once elected, Klain represents a much more encouraging choice than the other frontrunners for chief of staff. That doesn’t mean Klain is first and foremost a member of the party’s progressive wing, but between the enthusiasm for him on the left and his credentials working for the center left, Klain is in as good a position to unite the party as anyone could be.
Ty Brown is a freshman from the suburbs of Seattle studying political science.
Note: The GW College Democrats News & Blog Committee’s mission is to highlight, empower, and facilitate the political expression of its members. As such, the views expressed in this article are based on the opinions of its author, and do not necessarily represent the views of the whole of GW College Democrats, its executive board, or its deputy director board.