As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Daschle Withdraws

Link here. And scalps are collected and there's much rejoicing in Republican-land.

Question: Daschle was also given the title of "health policy czar" or something, with a White House office and responsibility for coordinating health care policy. Is that out, too? Anyone?

On balance, this is good for health care reform in that progressives will now be more likely to get on board. This is really bad for Obama, a chink in the armor that Republicans can point to and repeat incessantly. Daschle is now in that litany of Kimba Wood and Zoe Baird and all the Clinton appointees who were denied. Nancy Killefer is in there now, too.

This is also indicative of the rot in the Democratic Beltway establishment. Daschle and Bill Richardson were always considered stalwarts and sure bets for any cabinet right up to the moment when they had disqualifying parts of their records. We need new blood in the party, which is what Obama's Presidency was expected to deliver, yet in most cases he fell back on the same compromised figures. Experience is a double-edged sword.

...The NYT is dead right in this editorial, and hopefully the greater media can apply this broadly among both parties:

Mr. Daschle’s financial ties to major players in the health care industry may prove to be even more troublesome as health reform efforts proceed. Like many former power players in Washington, Mr. Daschle cashed in on his political savvy and influence to earn $5 million in recent years, including more than $2 million from Alston & Bird, a law and lobbying firm; more than $2 million from the private equity firm, InterMedia Advisors, which provided the car and driver; and hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches to interest groups, including those representing health insurance plans, medical equipment distributors and pharmacy boards.

Although Mr. Daschle was not a registered lobbyist, he offered policy advice to the UnitedHealth Group, a huge insurance conglomerate. He was also a trustee of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, on whose behalf he voiced opposition to a federal loan for a freight rail line near the clinic’s headquarters in Rochester, Minn. The loan was subsequently denied by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Mr. Daschle is another in a long line of politicians who move cozily between government and industry. We don’t know that his industry ties would influence his judgments on health issues, but they could potentially throw a cloud over health care reform. Mr. Daschle could clear the atmosphere by withdrawing his name.

Labels: , , , ,