What the New D.C. Power Structure Might Look Like

Photos: Tea Party Darlings Tannen Maury

Washington may look very different after the midterms. The GOP is favored to win control of the House, which would put John Boehner in the speaker’s chair and allow Republicans to head every committee. That will cause the White House to further recalibrate its priorities and staffing. A look at the would-be power structure:


Pete Rouse: Chief of Staff

Among the reported priorities of Obama’s new right-hand man: a West Wing shake-up of midlevel staff, a new communication strategy to better showcase the administration’s accomplishments, and a savvy way to embrace hot-button issues like energy and immigration reform, which could be key to the Dems’ 2012 strategy.

David Plouffe: Senior Adviser

Obama’s campaign architect will move into the West Wing next year to counsel senior staff on messaging and how to reconnect with voters, especially young ones. Current adviser David Axelrod, in turn, will return to Chicago to rebuild Obama’s campaign. The goal, of course, is reelection in 2012.

Austan Goolsbee: Chair of Council of Economic Advisers

Obama’s longtime colleague believes that investing in infrastructure and offering tax cuts to small businesses are among the most effective ways to jumpstart the economy. But as long as he leaves out across-the-board tax relief, he’ll butt heads with a fortified GOP.

Tom Donilon: National-Security Adviser

Donilon, the interim holder of the job, is known as a smart, hardworking insider, who usually agrees with Obama on counterterror strategy. Critics say he’s a yes man. The president may want to bring in a bigger name next year to appear tougher on terror.

Bill Burton: Press Secretary

Rumors continue to swirl about Robert Gibbs taking over as head of the Democratic National Committee. That would likely elevate Burton, a more congenial and straightforward spinmeister than most White House spokesmen. He would also be the first ever biracial (half African-American) press secretary.


Darrell Issa: Oversight

The Californian loves the spotlight, and he’ll get it if he follows through on pledges to investigate any perceived misstep by the Obama administration. Issa has even hinted at impeachment hearings, though he backed off in a NEWSWEEK interview: “Most people expect me to scream impeachment and issue subpoenas,” he said. “I don’t want to do either one.”

Jerry Lewis: Appropriations

The GOP’s goal of returning spending to 2008 levels would fall into the hands of Lewis. His party also plans to freeze tax rates for two years, offer additional tax breaks for small businesses and invest strategically in infrastructure.

Spencer Bachus: Financial Services

Democrat Barney Frank co-wrote the financial-reform bill this year. His Republican counterpart, if given the reins, wants to scale it back. He also wants to fully investigate the housing crisis but hasn’t yet articulated how.

Paul Ryan: Budget

The would-be budget chairman could make serious waves among Democrats—as well as his own party—if he enacts his bold “Roadmap for America’s Future.” But if he pushes too hard to cut entitlements, the plan could flop.

Eric Cantor: Majority Leader

Washington’s problem is spending, Cantor says, and the top Republican vote counter wants to cut $100 billion in non-defense funds to return to 2008 levels (read: pre-Obama). He also insists that health-care and financial reform are far too expensive.


Mitch McConnell: Senate Majority Leader

It appears that Democrats will be able to retain control of the Senate, but if Harry Reid loses his seat in Nevada, the majority leader will be replaced. Several Hill sources indicate Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer would be likely candidates for the top job—both of whom are more outspoken and left-leaning than Reid is. If the GOP, however, overcomes long odds and wins control, McConnell, the leading crusader in the Senate against the Obama administration, is favored to head the upper chamber.