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.
Dennis Ross Squeezes Iran?
Today's NYT reports that, in addition to preparing for a diplomatic approach, the Obama administration also wants to tighten economic sanctions against Iran. This would be consistent with Dennis Ross' long-stated belief that the U.S. needs more "leverage" if it is to negotiate effectively with Tehran. Here's Ross talking to Time in mid-2007: We shouldn't be afraid to engage. I don't think that talking is a form of surrender.
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 .
Daily Round-up, 2/3
Senators Baucus and Feinstein are still in shock over Daschle's departure. House Democrats have launched radio attack ads against GOP members who voted against S-CHIP. The first of some 8,000 lawsuits against tobacco companies went to trial in Florida. The Washington Post examines the fate of the new uninsured. Medicare's "donut hole" could prompt the elderly to cut back on needed prescriptions. Rising health care stocks have bolstered the Dow. The recession has squeezed small business owners struggling to cover health care costs. Health care entrepreneurs are finding promising markets in th
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.
Over at The Treatment, Jonathan Cohn and Suzy Khimm offer their take on Daschle's departure from HHS. Jonathan Cohn sees the removal of Daschle as a serious but not permanent setback to health care reform as a whole: Daschle had a direct line to Obama, a result of the relatively long relationship the two men had. That gave the health team clout.
On the lowest level of the J.W. Marriott in downtown D.C., hundreds of leading health care experts attending the AcademyHealth's conference are still reeling from the announcement of Daschle's withdrawal. "Honest to god, I'm stupefied by this," said Marie Michnich from the Institute of Medicine, shortly after the news broke this afternoon. "Now, to see all the work that's been lost. We had a sense of how it was going to work--how we were going to coordinate [health care reform] with the White House. And now we're just spinning." Others seemed similarly flabbergasted.
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.
Pressed in his briefing about why Daschle and Killefer would have to go--but not Tim Geithner--Robert Gibbs' answer, more or less, is that Geithner has already been confirmed and sworn in. He also says flatly that the White House did not send Daschle a signal that he had to go, and the decision was his alone. --Michael Crowley
It All Begins Here, In The District
It's been a bad day at the White House, with Killefer and Daschle bowing out. If you're looking for some humor and a lighter take on the Obama administration, check out Newsweek's new mock TV show, The District. It places Obama in the position of Whitney on MTV's new show, The City, a spin-off of the oh-so-bad-and-addictive The Hills. So far, the show has chronicled the Geithner debacle and the stimulus debate, with a pumping musical score by the Pussycat Dolls and Pink. Choice segment: "In this city, you have to learn pretty quickly where you fit in.