Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

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.

Obama's Secret Plan To Enact His Agenda
January 30, 2009

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has an article critical of President Obama's recent moves to expand government health care programs. Shocking, I know. But what's particularly interesting about this latest essay, by Kimberly Strassel, is the way it frames the argument. Under the headline, "Democratic Stealth Care," she writes: Tom Daschle is still waiting to be confirmed as secretary of health and human services, not that he's in any rush. Democrats are already enacting his and Barack Obama's agenda of government-run health care--entirely on the QT.

Waxman: Health Care Reform This Year
January 29, 2009

Barack Obama has said he wants to pursue major health care reform this year. Two key committee chairmen in the Senate, Max Baucus and Ted Kennedy, have said they watn to pursue health care this year. But what about the House? The leadership has been strangely silent on the question, except for some recent statements by James Clyburn, the Majority Whip, that it might be better to move slowly and expand coverage incrementally. A few minutes ago, Congressman Henry Waxman made his feelings known--and did so with no ambiguity.

The Kids Aren't Alright. Neither Are Their Parents.
January 28, 2009

Anthony Wright is executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. He blogs daily at the Health Access WeBlog and is a regular contributor here, as well. For those who have any doubt about the need for state aid in the economic recovery package, consider what California is contemplating. In the negotiations about our budget crisis, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to deny Medicaid coverage to over a half-million Californians, largely low-income working parents.