Obama May Tap Daschle for Health Secretary

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(Source: Center for American Progress)

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a stanch backer of the Clinton administration’s failed health- care effort of the early 1990s, is rumored to be President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

In fact, the South Dakota Democrat has reportedly accepted the offer, according to the Associated Press, which cites unnamed Democratic officials. “The appointment has not been announced, but these officials said the job is Daschle’s, barring an unforeseen problem as Obama’s team reviews the background of the South Dakota Democrat,” writes the AP.

Daschle is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a think-tank run by Obama transition adviser John Podesta. According to his bio, Daschle serves on the advisory boards of Intermedia Partners and the BP America Inc. external advisory council. He also serves on the boards of CB Richard Ellis, Mascoma Corp., Prime BioSolutions, the Freedom Forum, the Mayo Clinic, the Center for American Progress, the LBJ Foundation, and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. He is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.

Daschle serves on the advisory boards of Intermedia Partners and the BP America Inc. external advisory council, and on the boards of CB Richard Ellis, Mascoma Corp., Prime BioSolutions, The Freedom Forum, the Mayo Clinic, the Center for American Progress, the LBJ Foundation, and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The HHS secretary will play a major role in working with Congress on Obama’s campaign promise to expand health-care coverage for Americans through a combination of broader eligibility, more subsidies and employer mandates. Besides health reform, the next HHS secretary will deal with the growing budgetary woes of some of the nation’s critical health agencies.

Daschle served in the Senate from 1986 after eight years in the House of Representatives. He was Senate majority leader in 2001-03, but lost his 2004 re-election after Republicans ran a targeted him as a national Democrat out of step with his home state.

Daschle is married to a lobbyist, Linda Hall Daschle, who specializes in aviation and homeland security. His wife’s role as a registered lobbyist could present problems during confirmation hearings.

Though the Obama-Biden transition team made no announcement about Daschle, several insiders have confirmed it, according the various news outlets. The transition team did announce that Obama’s chief campaign strategist, David Axelrod, will serve as Obama’s senior adviser and Gregory B. Craig will serve as White House counsel.

Craig served under President Bill Clinton as assistant to the president and special counsel. Prior to that appointment, he served for two years as director of policy planning under Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Craig also worked for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy as senior adviser on defense, foreign policy and national security.

Craig has worked for high-profile clients including Elian Gonzalez’s father, John Hinckley Jr. and Kofi Annan and on President Bill Clinton’s

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