Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

Why It Won't Be Howard Dean; Why That's Too Bad
February 06, 2009

Howard Dean is probably not going to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.* As best as I can tell, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is not about to let Dean in the same zip code, let alone the same branch of government. That is the political reality. Still, writers should do more than reflect the political reality. They should try to change it--or, at least, explain why it's flawed. With that in mind, here are two very key assets that Dean would bring to the job--the job, I know, he'll never have. The first is management ability.

598,000 Reasons To Pass A Stimulus. Now.
February 06, 2009

This just in, via the New York Times: WASHINGTON — The country moved into its second year of uninterrupted job losses last month, with companies shedding another 598,000 jobs and the unemployment rate moving up to 7.6 percent, the Labor Department reported on Friday. ... Although the United States officially slipped into a recession in December 2007, the decline was erratic and temporarily disguised by the impact of the emergency tax rebate last spring.

More Hhs Chatter--and Not Just About Bredesen
February 05, 2009

For more proof of how the left would react to the appointment of Phil Bredesen to run the Department of Health and Human Services, here's Dr. SteveB, the health care blogger over at DailyKos: This choice would represent a complete betrayal by Obama of what he ran on in so many ways. Bredesen would be a terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible choice. Sort of like putting Summers in charge of economic policy or Gregg in charge of Commerce. But worse.

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.