The Secretary and the Czar: Obama Bets Big on Daschle for Healthcare

By Lindsay Beyerstein, MediaWire blogger

It's official, former Sen. Tom Daschle will be Barack Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle will also serve as Health Czar, which means he will be in charge of developing Obama's healthcare program in addition to running HHS.

Ezra Klein writes in the Prospect: "This is huge news, and the clearest evidence yet that Obama means to pursue comprehensive health reform. You don't tap the former Senate Majority Leader to run your health care bureaucracy. That's not his skill set. You tap him to get your health care plan through Congress."

Ezra argues that Obama has learned the lessons of Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful attempt to reform healthcare in 1994. Ezra's view, the Clinton plan failed because its architects were so focused on crafting the perfect policy that they neglected to figure out how they were going to sell their plan politically.

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Bill Richardson for Sec. of State

Obama is really working hard to change the way Washington works, and it looks like he's shooting for ever higher transparency in his dealing with the blogosphere.

So far, things have been pretty interesting.  Haven't they?

I want to dwell a moment on Obama's pick for Attorney General before this floor gets opened up for a discussion of how the Cabinet is coming along. Because Eric Holder as AG, is to my mind almost a stroke of genius.

The first thing Obama is planning to do is close Guantanamo Bay. In order to do so, he is planning on bringing the Al Qaeda there detained, to trial. This will be a tricky legal problem. Habeas Corpus requires the evidence to be presented, but forces to keep the classified material secure are going to work against public trial disclosure.

What makes Attorney General Eric Holder such a good appointment, apart from the fact that he held the deputy position for a long time - is that he is so well known to be competent, and completely results oriented. Obama is sending a new signal that good work is recognized. We didn't bring in someone who would do the bidding of a right or left leaning organization, we brought in someone who would simply do the job. The fact that the decision prompted quite a few really, really strong people who had left the Dept. of Justice for the more lucrative the private sector - to publicly state that they would return to serve under this new Attorney General, is a good example of the type of Leadership the new President is bringing. People want to be involved. And he's giving us that chance.

In Washington, under the Bush Republicans the lions share of power and money started going to fewer and fewer individuals and corporations. And the mechanism for doing that became secrecy, and collusion. The Office of the President Elect is already working to reverse that. And I think thats really cool. What we see in the Cabinet appointments will amount to setting the tone of the next four years. Eric Holders appointment blew me away.

I believe the open, progressive and defensibly similiar stroke of appointment insight would be the appointment in Bill Richardson for Secretary of State. The fact that Bill is results oriented; that he has the leverage and skill to bring countries to the table - and that he was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize four times ...

I don't know. Its hard to express. Everyone has a viewpoint about Sec. of State - our foreign policy is so damaged. Biden is likely advising Obama on this matter (Biden is very well versed in Foreign policy, he's another good pick lets not forget).

To me, the appointment of Bill Richardson for Sec. of State, would be akin to the accomplishment Obama marked in his career in the Illinois Senate, where he managed to help pass a bill that required videotaping of police interrogation (that helped cut down on some pretty strong issues relating to police brutality and also false testimony!)

Bill is the kind of person that can move between the different groups. He's negotiated with and won concessions from Saddam Hussein, North Korea, and served in the UN.

And think about this. What if we went from a Sec. of State that completely ignored dangerous countries, like the Bush Republican legacy - a Sec. of State that simply chooses military might over diplomacy... to one that wins the Nobel Peace Prize?

What are your thoughts about the Cabinet? Everything going ok?

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NOW Attacks Obama

Crossposted at The Motley Moose

I suppose it had to happen eventually. All the interest groups that think they had a hand in Obama's win, no matter how significant, are lining up to get the post-election handouts- and aren't going to be subtle about going after 'em. I mean, I expect it from people like Karl Rove, who today credited himself with Obama's win. But NOW- the National Organization for Women? Really?

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What will Monday mean?

After revealing that Obama and Hillary Clinton have met to discuss the Secretary of State position, the change team let out this release today:

"On Monday, President-elect Barack Obama and Senator John McCain will meet in Chicago at transition headquarters. It's well known that they share an important belief that Americans want and deserve a more effective and efficient government, and will discuss ways to work together to make that a reality. They will be joined in the meeting by Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman Rahm Emanuel."
Is there a cabinet position in play here? Is there some other kind of involvement that Obama will offer McCain in the Administration?

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Kicking the Wall Street Habit

by Zach Carter, TMC MediaWire blogger

As Barack Obama readies himself to lead the United States through what appears to be a scathing recession, he faces a choice between feeding the political sphere's Wall Street addiction and investing in economic progress. Two key former Clinton cabinet officials could determine which course he takes.

 It was more than a little startling to hear a U.S. leader who sounded like (gasp!) an economist at the president-elect's first press conference last week, after years of Bush speeches that treated economic policy as a realm defined exclusively by tax cuts and bailouts. But without policy specifics, we still do not know which voices of the many men and women flanking Obama at the event will impact the next administration's economic platform. Mother Jonesnotes that several of the names included on the list of Obama's economic advisers represent schools of thought that brought us directly to the current crisis. Two of the alleged experts, former Clinton Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, signed off on major financial deregulatory moves in the latter half of the Clinton years. The two sided often with former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on policies that included a refusal to place government oversight on the credit derivatives market, which eventually ballooned into the $60 trillion quagmire that destroyed AIG in September (who got another $40 billion from taxpayers on Monday).  

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