As household names go they are not even in the running: Lynn Daft, Frank Raines, Kitty Schirmer, Crin Kramer.
They are young, most of them ranging in age from the late 20s to the mid-30s. Politically, they tend to be liberal. They are decidedly not Southern, and a good many of them carry impeccable Ivy League credentials. Their leader is a mild-mannered 34-year-old lawyer whom President Carter has referred to as "my brains."
In the days of Richard Nixon, they would have been known as the Domestic Council. But under Jimmy Carter and Stuart E. Eizenstat, the Atlanta lawyer who heads the group, they are known as the domestic policy staff, the filter through which the administration's domestic plans pass.
It has been almost a year now since Eizenstat became the chief domestic policy adviser to the President. In that time, and despite the several domestic problems confronting the administration, especially in Congress, Eizenstat's status and the status of those around him have steadily risen.
That view, of course, is not universally shared. One administration official says that over the months ahead Eizenstat has become less the "honest broker" among competing views that he portrays himself as than the man who looks after Carter's domestic political interests, filling a void that has long existed in the White House.
Another adinistration official says that while Eizenstat's staff is highly capable it is marred "by a couple of bad apples" given to self promotion. An interest group representative adds that the domestic policy staff seems to suffer from the general malaise of the Carter White House - "you come out of a meeting wondering who is in charge here," he said.
But even where there is criticism, it is generally mild and never directed at Eizenstat himself. Within the White House, where the mutual admiration instincts of Carter's top aides from Georgla are strong. Eizenstat is consistently singled out for the most praise. There is little question that this reflects the President's viewpoint.
As a result of such attitudes, morale has remained high on the domestic poilcy staff despite the congressional setbacks the administration has suffered.
It is not the most glamorous work in town. There are endless meetings and mountains of paper. Typically, a domestic policy staff member communicates by memo, sending them up a regular chain of command, through Eizenstat's two deputies, then to Eizenstat and finally to the President.
But there is a measure of influence and a general recognition in the government that he who has Eizenstat's ear has at least indirect access to Carter.
Eizenstat will not discuss his own influence over domestic poilcy, but according to one of his aides:
"The President goes along with Stu's recommendations very, very often, and word of that has filtered through the bureaucracy. These people know that we can get a memo to Stu in 20 minutes and once he signs off on it it will go to the President."
In the beginning, Jimmy Carter had some misconceptions about what it would take to handle domestic policy. In the Kennedy White House under Theodore Sorensen and the Johnson White House under Joseph A. Califano Jr. the domestic staff numbered fewer than a half dozen people. Nixon sought to institutionalize his domestic system, creating the Domestic Council, where the number of aides swelled beyond 80.
Under President Ford, the Domestic Council fell into disuse, its numbers shrinking to about 60. But that was far too large for Carter, who first thought Eizenstat might bet along with a staff of five or six, a notion that the domestic policy chief did not share.
Building on the old "issues staff" of the Carter campaign, Eizenstat eventually developed a staff of slightly more than 20 professional domestic policy experts plus another 20 or so support personnel.
What resulted is remarkable mostly for the contrast with the usual image of the Carter White House as a place populated with Georgians. Eizenstat, in fact in the only Georgian on the domestic policy staff. Among the rest there are five Harvard Law School graduates another three Yale Law School graduates, two black Rhodes scholars, five women in charge of various sections such as energy and natural resources civil rights and justice.
Lynn Daft, for example, holds a doctorate from Purdue University in Ondiana and worked in the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Managament and Budget before becoming the agriculture expert on the domestic policy staff.
Frank Raines, one of the two black Rhodes scholars on the staff, is a graduate of Harvard Law School who practiced law in Seattle and was an acknowledge expert on welfare when Eizenstat recruited him. He is in charge of welfare and social services policy.
Katherine P. (Kitty) Schirmer worked for William D. Ruckelshaus at the Environmental Protection Agency and was a legislative assistant to the late Sen. Philip Hart (D-Mich.) before joining the White House. Her specialities are energy and the environment.
Orin Kramer, like many on the staff a lawyer, was an assistant to New Jersey Gov. Brendan T. Byrne. An early recruit who joined the Carter campaign in May, 1976, he is in charge of housing and urban policy.
At the top, between him and the staff, Eizenstat has positioned his two denuties. They are:
David M. Rubenstein, 28, a Baltimore native and graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, whose office is next to Eizenstat's and who says he tries to serve as "a last adviser to Stu."
Bert Carp, 33, an aide to Vice President Mondale when Mondale was in the Senate. Regarded as the most politically savvy of the people around Eizenstat, Carp is cited by a colleague as an example of "the good job Mondale did in placing his people in key positions in the administration." Another former Mondale aide, David Aaron, holds a position comparable to Carp's with the National Security Council.
At the end of the first year of the Carter administration, the Domestic Council as a legal entity no longer exists. It was aboliched as part of the reorganization of the Executive Office of the President. In its place ther is Eizenstat's domesic policy staff.
In a recent interview, Eizenstat said he expects little change in the coming year in the size or mode of operation of his staff. But reflecting the experience of a year, he made it clear that while his staff will not try to "run the government" as the old Nixon Domestic Council tried to do, his staff looks out first and foremost for the President.
"It's a thin line," he said. "You always have that Nixon-Halderman bugaboo. We are not trying to run the government, but we have to try to protect the President. There has been more of a need for coordination - not an unexpected need, it can't be avoided. The departments have their own interests and sometimes they conflict with one another and with the President's desires."