February 04, 2009
District of Corruption
So Damn Much Money is the title of Bob Kaiser’s penetrating book on the explosion of lobbying and corruption in Washington over the past quarter century. Kaiser is right, and so is Barack Obama in his attempt to attenuate the corrosive links between lobbying and government--even with the hiccup created by Tom Daschle’s withdrawal. In over 39 years in Washington, I have seen the city transformed from a sterile national capital akin to Canberra or Brasilia into a social, cultural, culinary, and economic metropolis that can (almost) compete with London and Paris.
Do More On Education In The Stimulus
Thanks to the hefty sum--roughly $140 billion--slated for education funding in the federal stimulus package, heated debate over education reform has hit the news yet again. Although they welcome the attention being paid to the nation's schools, many reformers, who favor hard-line measures like performance pay, high-stakes testing, and charter school funding, are rightly arguing that there should be more conditions encouraging broad, innovative changes attached to the stimulus funds.
Wyden Got Game
Noam's already suggested Ron Wyden as Daschle's replacement at HHS, citing his health care wonkery and his seat on the Senate Finance Committee. But here's another vital Wyden credential (c/o valued Plank reader S.B.): he can ball, having attended the University of California at Santa Barbara on a hoops scholarship. If Wyden winds up at HHS, how about Brian Shaw for the White House Office of Health Reform? --Jason Zengerle
In his otherwise excellent (to my inexpert eyes, at least) column on the stimulus today, the Times's David Leonhardt asks: The most serious charge against the stimulus package is that it does not pack enough punch.... Why isn’t [Team Obama] pushing for a bigger package?
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.