Conservative Socialism: “Executive Office” and “White House Office” (Pt. I of II)

There is far more to the Executive Branch than the President of the United States and their subordinate Vice President and Cabinet. An entire bureaucracy exists as part of the Executive Branch, and a lot of them do in fact fall under the auspices of specific Departments and their respective Secretaries. These aforementioned organizations and agencies, as they currently operate as of late, are considered to be independent from the direct control of the Presidency. One obvious example covered in The Work-Standard (2nd Ed.) is the Federal Reserve, the US central bank, whose administrative jurisdiction happens to the US Department of Treasury. Consider the following table below, a depiction of the current extent of the Federal government since 2011:

Even though this chart is for 2011, it is still a general guide to understanding the organizational structure of the Federal government as it currently stands.

What I would like to address is an important question which has remained pervasive since that Jeffersonian president Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in office. As the above chart demonstrates, an entire technocratic bureaucracy has grown within the Presidency, including a whole coterie of policy experts whose presence has gone unnoticed and unquestioned. These policy experts serve as technocrats under the “Executive Office of the President of the United States,” advising the President on specific issues related to certain areas of US policy. FDR allowed the Executive Office to be further developed along the Freedom-Security Dialectic, because the Executive Office over the decades have consistently included four specific “Offices”:

  • The White House Office, led by a “Chief of Staff,” comprises the closest advisors to the President on domestic policy issues.
  • Council of Economic Advisors are the economists guiding the direction of the President’s economic policies.
  • The National Security Council concerns itself with matters related to the military, intelligence and foreign policy.
  • And the Office of Management and Budget handles the task of finalizing the Federal Budget before sending it to Congress of Parliaments for approval.

These advisors and policy experts, as the above chart shows, exist independently of the Cabinet within the Executive Branch. Whole Offices have grown up inside of the Executive Office to direct the President’s decision-making on a given number of policy issues that do not fall within the auspices of the aforementioned four. The chart lists the Offices of Science and Technology Policy, Administration and US Trade Representative, the Domestic Policy Council, the National Science and Technology Council, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

  • The Office of Administration deals with the general administrative affairs of the Executive Office of the President
  • The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is concerned with the US Space Program
  • The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) focuses on the applications of technology within the entire Federal government
  • US Trade Representative oversees trade policies
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy tackles the issue of narcotics in the US

The rest of the Executive Office includes various other Offices which do not fall under the aforementioned areas. They more than likely operate under the the White House Office. They include:

  • Office of the Chief of Staff
  • Senior Advisors and Counsel to the President
  • Domestic Policy Council
  • National Economic Council
  • Office of Communications and its subordinate Offices of the Press Secretary, Speechwriting, and Digital Strategy
  • Office of the First Lady
  • Office of Legislative Affairs (works with Congress of Parliaments)
  • Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (works with Federal System)
  • Office Management and Administration (oversees White House Office)
  • Office of the National Security Advisor
  • Office of Political Strategy and Outreach
  • Office of Presidential Personnel
  • Office Public Engagement
  • Office of Scheduling and Advance
  • Office of the Staff Secretary and its subordinate Offices of Presidential Correspondence, Executive Clerk, and Records Management
  • Office of the White House Counsel
  • Oval Office Operations
  • White House Fellows
  • White House Military Office

The Trump administration added a “COVID-19 Response Team” and the incumbent Biden administration introduced a “Gender Policy Council.” Regardless, the organizational structure of the Executive Office and the White House Office have remained more or less the same since FDR.

From a Conservative Socialist standpoint, one should criticize whether this professional technocratic bureaucracy was necessary, especially considering that the Executive Office and White House Office sort of exist as separate entities at times. This is because the Executive Office are actual civil servants who work between election cycles to inform the administrations of different Presidents. The White Office, meanwhile, are political appointees personally selected by the President and do not need the prior approval of the Senate inside Congress.

If there is any argument for why this professional technocratic bureaucracy exists, it is because, in a world where the issues facing America come from a variety of fields, the President has to draw upon the advice and information provided by policy experts and advisors within the Executive Office. To put another way, the old State of Natural Rights which continues to govern Jeffersonianism has been forced to contend with growing challenges presented by the conditions associated with Total Mobilization. Since America never succeeded in fully transitioning to the State of Total Mobilization, a process which would have transformed the Executive Branch and the rest of the Federal government, creating a professional technocratic bureaucracy that had to be treated as a necessity.

In the wake of the 20th century, the Presidency operates under conditions similar to those found in Congress with regard to the State of Total Mobilization. In essence, just as how the Legislative Branch has shades of Parliamentary Democracy and Council Democracy, the Executive Branch also contains Parliamentarian and Councilor characteristics. For the Presidency, one half of the Executive Branch appears to be more malleable to a delegative model of governance, the other favorable to the representative one.

Going back to the Federalist American Union described in The Work-Standard (2nd Ed.), would the White House Office be associated with the party apparatus of a new-old Federalist Party, the Executive Office formed from the ranks of the Federal government proper? After all, given the designations for the various lesser offices inside the White House Office in particular, some of those positions are not necessarily there to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the White House itself.

It can be argued that the current conception of the Presidency, like the Congress, is also a reflection of Jeffersonian ideology. An exploration of the Presidency from a more Hamiltonian is definitely in order in a future post.

  



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  1. Conservative Socialism: “Executive Office” and “White House Office” (Pt. II of II) – The Fourth Estate

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