Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

More Reasons Why Bredesen Is A Bad, Bad Idea
February 05, 2009

Marc Ambinder is reporting that Phil Bredesen is a serious candidate to become Secretary of Health and Human Services. Various stories around town have him being vetted or emerging as one of two finalists, although my sources for that are all second-hand, so make of that information what you will. As I wrote yesterday, Bredesen seems like a particularly poor candidate for the job. He presided over massive cuts to Tennessee's Medicaid program and, by all appearances, relished fighting with advocates for the poor more than the advocates of the cuts.

Elections Have Consequences, Good News Edition
February 05, 2009

On Wednesday, President Obama signed into a law an extension of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). Congress had passed a similar measure last year, when the program--first created during the Clinton Administration, with bipartisan support--was up for renewal. But President Bush and his conservative allies refused to go along, saying it was "government-run health care." The bill's supporters, which included not just the Democrats but many Republicans as well, couldn't quite muster the votes to overcome the veto.

Yet More Reasons To Get Mad About The Stimulus
February 05, 2009

Directly below, public health specialist and regular Treatment contributor Harold Pollack chronicles efforts to strip smart public health investments out of the stimulus. And if that doesn't make you sufficiently angry, here's some more distressing news, via the Huffington Post: The sifters found some noteworthy nuggets in the bill.

Bredesen For Health Reform?! (updated With Alarm Bells)
February 04, 2009

Buzz this morning is that Phil Bredesen, governor of Tennessee, is under consideration to replace Tom Daschle in the administration. It's not clear whether this would be at the Department of Health and Human Services (more likely) or the White House Office of Health Reform (less likely). Of course, that's assuming the Office of Heatlh Reform remains constituted as it is now--which, by the way, is not a given. In any event, the Bredesen talk is not completely idle speculation.

Sebelius, Romney, Arnold...yes, No, Maybe
February 03, 2009

Lots and lots and lots of speculation out there about who should succeed Tom Daschle. A few things to keep in mind. 1. It's not a given that Obama will appoint one person to oversee both the White House health reform office and the Department of Health and Human Services. Daschle was uniquely equipped to handle both jobs simultaneously (and was not, to be perfectly honest, necessarily ideal for HHS). As I wrote earlier today, it seems more likely to me that Obama will divide the job and appoint separate replacements for the separate posts. 2 .

Was Daschle Pushed? Or Was It His Call?
February 03, 2009

The conventional wisdom on the backstory of Tom Daschle's departure has already hardened. The administration cut him loose and told him to withdraw, if not explicitly then implicitly. Washington uber-networker Steve Clemons even has an item up about hostility between Daschle supporters and Rahm Emanuel, whom--in this telling--they blame for letting Daschle go without a fight. All of that may be true.

Daschle Is Done. Health Reform Is (probably) Not.
February 03, 2009

Can health care reform go ahead, this year, even without Tom Daschle? Yes. Does this episode--and Daschle's absence--make the task of enacting health care reform harder? Yes, although how much harder is difficult to say right now.   Daschle had a combination of talents not easy to find in one person--poiltical savvy, connections in Washington, and a thorough knowledge of health care policy. But that doesn't mean you can't replace those skills, particularly if you're willing to find several people instead of one.  Remember that Daschle was actually up for two posts.

Daschle Out
February 03, 2009

As you may have heard by now, Tom Daschle just withdrew his nomination to be Secretary of Heatlh and Human Services.  It's not clear to me yet whether that means he's also stepping down as director of health care reform at the White House--or what this means for the future of health care reform. But I'm trying to learn more and will report back when I do. Update: He's stepping down from both posts. Via the Washington Post: Daschle had been appointed to two posts -- both the HHS Secretary and the health care czar, with an office at the White House.

On Daschle's Fitness For Office
February 02, 2009

The smart money says that Tom Daschle’s nomination to be Secretary of Health and Human Services will go through, partly because his tax errors seem to have been inadvertent and partly because he’s a former Senate leader still held in high esteem by his old colleagues. The Senate is like a club, in which membership crosses party lines; for transgressions like these, the thinking goes, they’ll approve him. Still, all of that assumes the rules in Washington will remain what they’ve always been. And that may not be the case. Sometimes standards shift, sometimes very quickly.

Super Bowl Controversy: Was That Definitely A Fumble?
February 01, 2009

If you watched tonight's Super Bowl, you know that the key play was the penultimate one. That's when Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, in a desperate bid to lead a last-second comeback, was hit by Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker Lamar Woodley. The ball squirted out, bouncing forward a few yards, where Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel gobbled it up. Referees on the field ruled the play a fumble, Pittsburgh took possession, and--with seven seconds left in the game--quarterback Ben Roethlesberger took a knee. Game over. Steelers are World Champions. And that's fine with me.