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The strong-dollar policy turns up again

Section: Daily Dispatches

Chief of Staff Is Expected
to Shake Up 2 Key Teams

By Elisabeth Bumiller
The New York Times
Thursday, March 30, 2006

WASHINGTON, March 29 -- Joshua B. Bolten, the incoming White House
chief of staff, is expected to press President Bush to assemble new
economic and Congressional relations teams and overhaul the
management of the West Wing, Republicans close to the White House
said Wednesday.

A prominent Republican in Washington who consults often with the
White House said Mr. Bolten, who is to assume his duties next month,
wants Mr. Bush to replace the Treasury secretary, John W. Snow, with
someone who can more forcefully communicate the administration's
message that the economy is strong. This Republican was granted
anonymity to discuss private deliberations within the administration.

Speculation about Mr. Snow's departure has flared and receded
periodically for more than a year, and it returned after Mr. Bush's
announcement on Tuesday that Mr. Bolten, the White House budget
director, would succeed Andrew H. Card Jr. as chief of staff.

Names circulating in Republican circles as possible candidates for
the Treasury post included Henry M. Paulson Jr., the chief executive
of Goldman Sachs; John J. Mack, the chief executive of Morgan
Stanley; and Richard D. Parson, the chairman of Time Warner.
It was unclear if any of the three would consider taking the job.
Their names surfaced immediately after Mr. Bolten's appointment
because Mr. Bolten, who once worked for Goldman Sachs, is friendly
with Mr. Paulson and Mr. Mack.

Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, is said to think
highly of Mr. Parsons, who has worked with the White House on several
issues, including its efforts to overhaul Social Security.

Republicans said that if Mr. Bush turned to Wall Street for a new
Treasury secretary, it could help reassure financial markets, which
are increasingly worried about record-high budget and trade deficits.

Mr. Snow's spokesman, Tony Fratto, declined to comment Wednesday
night about the speculation, but said Mr. Snow was continuing with
plans to be the host of a meeting of finance ministers from the Group
of 7 industrialized democracies next month in Washington.

Dan Bartlett, the White House counselor, also declined to comment on
the speculation, but said Mr. Bolten had a free hand to make changes.

"The president has given Josh, as he would have any chief of staff,
the authority to run the White House as he sees fit," Mr. Bartlett

Nonetheless, Mr. Bartlett added: "I don't think Josh is entering this
transition period with firm judgments. He's going to take a fresh
assessment and do what he thinks is right to accomplish his goals.
While Josh and Andy are very close and have worked together, they're
different people and have different management styles."

Republicans said Mr. Bolten was likely to change the White House
Congressional relations team, which has been criticized on Capitol
Hill as ineffective. Candida Wolff, the White House director of
Congressional affairs, may well stay, they said, but a more senior
person might be put in as a layer above her.

Ms. Wolff is well liked at the White House, but one Republican said
she had been undercut by Mr. Rove, Mr. Bartlett, and Mr. Card, who
were in effect all masters of their own Congressional relations.

People mentioned as possibilities for such a liaison post included
Bill Paxon, a former New York congressman who was a lieutenant to
Newt Gingrich, the former House majority leader, in the 1990's, and
Daniel R. Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana and guide
for Harriet E. Miers and Samuel A. Alito Jr. through the Supreme
Court confirmation process.

The most immediate change, Republicans said, would be a budget
director to replace Mr. Bolten. The leading possibilities included
Joel Kaplan and Clay Johnson, Mr. Bolten's two deputies, as well as
Allan Hubbard, the director of the National Economic Council.
Republicans said Mr. Bush had not ruled out bringing in an
experienced Washington hand to help calm Congressional Republicans
who have complained with increasing boldness and exasperation that
the White House staff is exhausted and adrift. While Mr. Bolten's
appointment was generally well received by the party, many
Republicans said on Wednesday that the staff changes did not go far

Mr. Bush was described as paying close heed to such advice.

"What I've been hearing for several weeks is that he was listening
and he wasn't being impatient about it," said a Republican who speaks
regularly to senior White House officials. "You know how he is,
somebody presents an idea; he says, 'No, not doing that, next
question.' But he was not like that, so that means he was at least
digesting some of the advice suggesting change."


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