Wednesday, November 19, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Tom Daschle to be both Health Czar and Health and Human Services Secretary

By Michael J.W. Stickings

President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former Sen. Tom Daschle to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the former Senate majority leader has indicated he wants the job, three sources close to the transition told CNN Wednesday.

The sources said that 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.

By wearing two hats, Daschle -- not White House staffers -- will be writing the health care plan that Obama submits to Congress next year.

It's not official yet -- no comment from the Obama team, and of course Daschle would still need to be confirmed -- but, if true, it's an excellent pick.

Daschle was hugely instrumental in Obama's election win, providing not just his support from early on but also many of his former staffers. And he also has the political savvy and experience to lead the policy development and implementation process and to guide the legislation through Congress once the time comes.

As is so often the case with all things health-care-related, I turn to TNR's Jonathan Cohn: "This is a perfect role for Daschle. Although he was always been interested in health care, in the last few years he's become a true wonk on the subject, publishing a book called Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis. It urges precisely the sorts of reforms President-Elect Obama and his congressional allies are promoting right now."

For those of us who think health care should be one of Obama's key priorities going forward, this is a promising move, to say the least.


UPDATE: Ezra Klein is also pleased: "This is huge news, and the clearest evidence yet that Obama means to pursue comprehensive health reform. You don't tap the former Senate Majority Leader to run your health care bureaucracy. That's not his skill set. You tap him to get your health care plan through Congress. You tap him because he understands the parliamentary tricks and has a deep knowledge of the ideologies and incentives of the relevant players. You tap him because you understand that health care reform runs through the Senate. And he accepts because he has been assured that you mean to attempt health care reform.

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  • not to be a negative nelly but i could really do without naming folks 'czars.' it's stupid. on a more positive note, i am glad daschle is back on the scene. he's a good man.

    By Blogger billie, at 1:42 PM  

  • Betmo, I agree with you about the "czar" thing. It's stupid. As if policy leaders should be deemed to be Russian potentates.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 2:03 PM  

  • Well i just think he could have occupied just one position why not consider Richardson of Colorado one of those two position -- this is a charismatic guy with a lot of guts that Obama can use in his administration - Nevertherless Dascle is a good pick!

    By Blogger Unknown, at 4:22 PM  

  • I am disappointed in the selection of Tom Daschle as secretary of HHS. The country deserves better than having someone like him--a far left-leaning liberal and extreme partisan--in the cabinet. Surely Sen Obama could have found someone with more nonpartisan person from outside the District of Columbia to help solve the problems we face.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:54 PM  

  • Change?What change is this more Clinton characters and blasts from the past?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:06 PM  

  • We need Health Care Reform and this seems like the person to do it. We need doctors to make a fair wage and we need to be able to afford to pay them. I hope he make the pharma cos. quit their lobbying ways.

    By Blogger Gregg Haas, Scorpio, at 9:46 PM  

  • Where's all this "change" that Obama promised. Majority of his cabinets pick's have ties to the Clinton's or Lobbyists (Like Daschle). Didn't Obama say on the campaign train that "his" White House was not going to be inhabited by lobbyists, former Clinton cronies and insiders?? I guess this is the "Change we can all believe in", right? Sickening.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:49 AM  

  • Although I do feel that Daschle has much to prove, I truly believe that positive thought can transform this country! While it may be easy to dwell on negative aspects of Daschle’s policies, we can only look to the future and all that it holds in store for us. I've been using this concept in my personal life as well. Positive thought combined with the use of vision boards has truly helped me be more open to opportunity and change for the better! Like Obama says, “I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington…I’m asking you to believe in yours.” Here's a great resource explaining (better than I can) how to use these concepts to better your life: You can download a free first chapter, too!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:38 PM  

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