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Tilting at Windmills

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November 19, 2008

DASCHLE TO HEAD HHS?.... Even before the election, drafts of what an Obama cabinet might look like had former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle taking the lead at HHS. If the reports today are accurate, that's exactly what's going to happen.

Three sources close to the transition and in a position to know tell CNN that former Sen. Tom Daschle is President-elect Barack Obama's choice to be Secretary of Health and Human Services and the former Senate Majority Leader has indicated he wants the job.

Most significantly, Daschle negotiated that he will also serve as the White House health "czar" -- or point person -- so that he will report directly to the incoming President. The significance is this guarantees that by wearing two hats Daschle, and not White House staffers, will be writing the health care plan that Obama submits to Congress next year.

The sources said the precise timing of the announcement has not been worked out, but Daschle is likely to officially join the Obama transition team as the lead adviser on health issues in the next few weeks.

Roll Call, I believe, was the first to report the news.

The Daschle announcement reinforces the notion that an Obama administration is going to take the push for healthcare reform very seriously. A senior Democratic official told Mike Allen, "Of all the proposals that Obama wants to enact, health care requires the most input and tough negotiations and shepherding. No one knows the House and Senate like Tom Daschle."

Indeed, the Daschle news makes me even more encouraged about the prospect of a healthcare package actually passing. Emanuel is insisting that an incremental approach won't do; Baucus and Kennedy are laying the groundwork on the Hill; and Daschle has been preparing for this fight for quite a while.

For more on what to expect in terms of the policy debate, you can also check out Daschle's recent book about healthcare policy, and Ezra's interview with him on the subject earlier this year.

Update: Jonathan Cohn has more, including why this is the "perfect role for Daschle," and why this is "good news for health reform."

Steve Benen 1:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

Woohoo! Stylish red glasses for everyone! Or Lasik surgery. Your choice.

Seriously, very good news even if expected.

Posted by: Trevor J on November 19, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

This is really shaping up to be a government of re-runs rather than change. To date, Obama hasn't made a single staffing choice that strikes me as bold. Daschele was as hapless as minority Dem leader in the senate. Emanuel is probably too pro-Israel for the good of the nation. Hillary is a non-starter as a SS choice. And Obama's AG nominee made a really stupid decision on Rich and has spent his time recently representing corporate America.

"Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was."

Posted by: Jeff II on November 19, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Each of President-elect Obama's choices so far tells me that he wants to actually accomplish all the priorities he ran on in this campaign. To enact legislation he needs experienced hands like Emanuel, Daschle, Clinton, Holder and Biden to shape the proposed laws and then shepherd them through Congress.

Obama doesn't seem to want to waste time, he will be the one setting the direction in his administration, just as he did in the campaign. That seemed to work out OK.

Posted by: KevinMc on November 19, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

A few familiar faces in very unfamiliar times does NOT equal 'Same as it ever was'.

This is called wise. Sorry if it bores you to see some old hats who are tried and true.

Posted by: familiar does not equal same on November 19, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

This is really shaping up to be a government of re-runs rather than change.

Unless you meant "Change we can believe in" was really "Change it back! Change it back!!"

Hm. That's not really a bad change (at least to start with).

Posted by: gwangung on November 19, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II would prefer inexperienced unknowns.

Any minority leader from '02 to '04, would have been rendered similarly ineffective by the GOP strangle-hold on our gov't as was Daschle.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on November 19, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II

Who, in your opinion, would be the best people to fill the four positions that you mentioned?

Personally, I never for a second imagined that Obama would bring all politically unknown Washington outsiders to help him run the government. I'm not suggesting that you were, its just that I see this "not enough change reflected in his pics" meme cropping up, as if most people seemed to believe that not one prominent Democrat from the House, Senate, or Clinton White House would be part of his administration. I believe that would have been very naive, and practically dangerous. That is not what change meant to me. Change meant that we’d see real progress out of Washington in terms of good legislation. If Obama can assemble a team that helps him enact those changes I could care less if they came from the Clinton White House or were a previous Senate Majority Leader.

In the past have they done something or expressed an opinion that I disagree with? Yes. Are these the exact people I would have chosen? No. But I’m also not the who ran a near flawless campaign, took down a nearly impervious front runner and got myself elected President - all while being a mixed race candidate with a ‘funny’ sounding name. I’ve questioned Obama’s strategy before, and mostly I’ve been wrong. I’ll continue to question it, but I won’t underestimate him.

Posted by: J. Cason on November 19, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Yawn.

Posted by: Cazart on November 19, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

It seems Presidents plan their governing approach based on a reaction to prior precedents. Obama seems determined to not be Carter: the single biggest criteria one sees emerging from the names named or floated appears to be "knowledge of/relationships to/skills in dealing with Congress."

While that is surely valuable when you want to make sure your agenda gets passed, I hope at some point he liberally mixes in highly-placed people with less traditional backgrounds -- NGOs, the states, businesses, luminary academics and thinkers, activists -- to throw new ideas and viewpoints into the mix.

The ability to pass your agenda is only as useful as your agenda is useful. I'd like to see more attention to people who can develop a visionary agenda as opposed to this total focus on who can make the agenda happen.

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 19, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II writes: This is really shaping up to be a government of re-runs rather than change.

It's a rejection of the Republican policies of the last 8 years and those responsible for those policies. That's the change we need...

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on November 19, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who's been reading this blog for any length of time has to know that Jeff II is automatically critical of anything Obama does, and is almost certainly a Republican troll.

Posted by: DavidNOE on November 19, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Any Democrat who spent any time in Washington during the 1990s is going to have some association with the Clintons, so what?

Obama seems determined to not be Carter: the single biggest criteria one sees emerging from the names named or floated appears to be "knowledge of/relationships to/skills in dealing with Congress."

This is key. Everyone goes on about Clinton affiliations, but Emanuel was most recently a Dem leader in the House, not to mention he's from Chicago and friends with Obama.
Daschle actually wasn't in the Clinton administration, but you can bet that a former minority and majority leader in the Senate knows how to move legislation and work with Senators on both sides. I didn't realize until today that he actually wrote a book on health care reform.
My concern is Hillary Clinton. She could certainly be a good SOS, but I don't think she's the best candidate, and others have questioned her executive abilities(considering her campaign and previous attempt at health care reform). Tom Friedman made another good point--will the rest of the world view her as actually speaking for Obama and take her seriously? There's also the media obsession and neverending soap operas, does Obama really want all that as he starts out? John Stewart noted that he doesn't get extra points for degree of difficulty(talking about both Clinton and Lieberman)--he said its like climbing Mt. Everest in shorts and flip flops, with Wilfred Brimley as your sherpa.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on November 19, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

And Jeff II--nice job cherrypicking everyone's negative point and completely ignoring the rest. Good luck running anything with a flawless staff.

p.s. Emmanuel is going to be COS, not SOS, and one problem that Obama had was that he was viewed unfairly as not supportive enough of Israel. Too pro-Israel, not pro-Israel enough, either way I'm sure folks like you will never be happy with Obama.
Your criticism of Holder is exactly what I'd expect to hear from Republicans, otherwise it's a non-issue.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on November 19, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Dean wants it, according to his interview with HuffPo, and he should have first refusal. Daschle might be more capable as HHS secretary than he was as Senate leader.

Posted by: ericfree on November 19, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I see it as a new coach assigned to head the same team and a few new signings. Its all about the new coach's strategy and tactics.

Change is NOT about people, people! Its about policy!

Teach the old dogs new tricks.

Posted by: Akinola on November 19, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who's been reading this blog for any length of time has to know that Jeff II is automatically critical of anything Obama does, and is almost certainly a Republican troll. Posted by: DavidNOE

DavidNOE,

I literally cried when they called it for Obama. I supported him at our caucus. I supported Dean in 2004. I've been voting in presidential election since 1980, and Obama is the only candidate I've ever been excited about. I think you have me confused with someone else.

My concern is that while it is understandable that Obama would like to be surrounded by experienced hands, I'm pretty sure that bringing in too many people from the Clinton era is not such a great idea. In spite of it being a two term presidency what legacy it has is pretty thin and not progressive in the least.

Tom Daschele is probably a very nice man, but he's a wimp who got steamrolled post 9/11. Howard Dean should be offered DHHS. Hillary Clinton is, unfortunately, married to Bill Clinton. Enough said. Rahm Emmanuel is about as sharp a political operator as there is in Democratic politics (though Howard Dean is probably the sharpest). However, he may be too pro-Israel for the sake of an effective change in ME policy. I hope his position as CoS limits his influence there.

Unlike Carter bringing in a bunch of people way in over their heads, Obama good bring in people who have not been members of the executive branch in previous administration but who are not necessarily complete federal government neophytes. However, much of his transition team and the few appointments made yet so far are all people associated with the Clinton administration.

Posted by: Jeff II on November 19, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK
However, much of his transition team and the few appointments made yet so far are all people associated with the Clinton administration.

Which was the last Democratic administration. And not too unsuccessful on their own terms.

That's not a bad thing.

Change is not a fetish; callbacks to people with experience is not a bad thing. And change is what people DO, and not necessarily the people themselves.

Posted by: gwangung on November 19, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. I went to bed with Change election night and woke up with the DLC. I would be more comfortable if Obama picked people who spent the last eight years rolling over and playing dead.

Posted by: anon on November 19, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

If all the people who supported Obama throughout the primary start screaming that they didn't expect THIS, then I'm gonna have to scream back that Obama hasn't changed his message since the start and you should be quiet and let him do the job.

I supported Edwards and I'm willing to let him show what he can do, so his own supporters should too.

Posted by: MarkH on November 19, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like Daschle isn't going no where anytime soon...

Posted by: john on November 20, 2008 at 6:06 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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