I have a story up on the main site about how Tom Daschle’s sudden withdrawal will hinder the Obama administration’s health-care reform efforts. In today’s New York Times, Obama adviser David Axelrod bluntly declares, “There was no plan B.”
In addition to leading HHS, Daschle was supposed to head the White House Office of Health Reform. The administration now seems likely to divide those jobs. President Obama could nominate a governor to lead HHS (Kathleen Sebelius, Ed Rendell, Jennifer M. Granholm, John Kitzhaber and netroots favorite Howard Dean have been named as possibilities), while promoting Jeanne M. Lambrew to lead efforts out of the White House. Lambrew, the co-author of Daschle’s health-care book and former senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress, has already been serving as deputy director of the White House office. The problem is, none of those possible options would be able to play the legislative role that was planned for Daschle. Anybody can come up with a health care plan, but the big trick is getting that plan through Congress by pushing the buttons of all of the lawmakers and all the interest groups who have a stake in the health-care debate. That’s where Daschle’s experience and skill set was expected to prove crucial, and that’s why anybody who has been following this closely knows what a big blow his withdrawal was to the Obama administration.
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