By Peter Baker
New York Times
WASHINGTON — In all the discussion these days about how dysfunctional Washington has become, attention usually centers on a fractious Congress riven by partisanship and paralyzed at times by rules and obstruction. Often lost in that conversation is the possibility that the presidency itself may need fixing.
At least that is the conclusion of a bipartisan group of former advisers to presidents and would-be presidents who have drafted what they call a plan to make the presidency work better. With the help of several former White House chiefs of staff, the group, called No Labels, has fashioned a blueprint that would make whoever wins in November both more powerful and more accountable.
The idea is to cut through some of the institutional obstacles to decisive leadership that have challenged President Obama and his recent predecessors, while also erecting structures to foster more bipartisanship, transparency and responsiveness. If the proposals were enacted, the next president would have more latitude to reorganize the government, appoint his own team, reject special-interest measures and fast-track his own initiatives through Congress. But he would also be called on to interact more regularly with lawmakers, reporters and the public.
“There aren’t any magic answers to Washington’s problems,” said Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist who worked on several presidential campaigns and now directs the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. “But what these reforms do is make it easier for elected officials who are serious about solving problems to do so.”
Nancy Jacobson, a longtime Democratic fund-raiser who, like Mr. Schnur, is a co-founder of No Labels, said the purpose of the plan was to find ways to make a difference, taking into account the current atmosphere. “We’re trying to make the presidency more effective,” she said.
The plan is a follow-up to a similar blueprint from No Labels for making Congress work better. Among those consulted by the group — which describes itself as a movement of Democrats, Republicans and independents devoted to crossing partisan lines to solve problems — were William Daley, a former chief of staff to Mr. Obama, and Joshua B. Bolten, who was the last chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
The plan advances 11 proposals, some of them relatively minor but symbolically important and others fairly sweeping in scope. Many of them may be unlikely to be adopted, but the authors hope at least to prompt a debate about ways to address the dysfunction they see.
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