Nov 19 2008

Obama Selects Daschle to Head Health and Human Services

Category: Health,PoliticsTim @ 1:22 pm

News out of Washington today on another Obama cabinet choice:

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has accepted President-elect Barack Obama’s offer to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, Democratic officials said Wednesday.

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. One area of review will include the lobbying connections of his wife, Linda Hall Daschle, who has done representation mostly on behalf of airline-related companies over the years. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorize to discuss the matter publicly.

What does the choice of Daschle indicate about the Obama Administration?

As Health and Human Services chief, Daschle will be responsible for helping set health care policy. He supports a government-funded insurance program for the nation’s uninsured.

Daschle has also been the head of the health care working group in the Obama transition team. Democratic officials shied away from a term some are throwing around — “health care czar” — but say Daschle “is likely to play a leading role in the passage of health care reform and the strategy to implement it.”

Other sources lay out substantial work being done by the incoming administration to enable health care reform, all of which indicates Obama does intend to move on this issue in spite of the monumental difficulties, including financial obstacles.

Get ready for some serious change in the health care industry. Goodness knows, we need it.

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Nov 14 2008

Obama Considering Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State

Category: PoliticsTim @ 7:02 am

As Barack Obama continues to build-out his cabinet, Hillary Clinton is emerging as a candidate for Secretary of State:

WASHINGTON (AFP) — US president-elect Barack Obama is considering naming former first lady Hillary Clinton — his onetime rival for the White House — as his secretary of state, US news media reported on Friday.

Two unnamed Obama advisers told NBC News network that Clinton, now a senator for New York, “is under consideration” for the post.

According to NBC, Clinton flew to Chicago — where Obama is based — on Thursday, but an adviser said it was on personal business.

Obama sources confirmed to CNN that Clinton was being considered, but her spokesperson Philippe Reines was non-committal when asked.

If Clinton is chosen, the decision will have a major impact on foreign policy:

Her selection as top U.S. diplomat could also mean a more hawkish foreign policy than that advocated by Obama during his presidential campaign. On the campaign trail, Clinton was more reluctant than Obama to commit to a firm timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

But both Obama and Clinton were adamant about improving the image of the United States abroad and correcting what they considered the “failed policies” of the outgoing Bush administration.

It’s no surprise that Clinton will play a major role in the Obama Administration. Both Hillary and Bill provided significant and meaningful support in the late stages of the campaign and were a significant factor in Obama’s election. In the world of Washington politics, support comes with a price tag. Perhaps the price was one of the most coveted cabinet positions, Secretary of State.

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Nov 13 2008

Breaking News: Sun Times Reporting Obama Will Resign His Senate Seat on Sunday

Category: 2008 Election,PoliticsTim @ 1:52 pm

The Chicago Sun Times is reporting that Barack Obama will be stepping-down from his Senate seat this weekend:

WASHINGTON–Barack Obama will step down from his U.S. senate seat on Sunday, the president-elect said on Thursday.

That’s all the site has, but it is an interesting development. I’ll post an update when we know more.

Update

It’s official, Obama will resign this weekend.

Under state law, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich will name Obama’s replacement for the remaining two years of his term. Blagojevich has said he expects to make a decision by year’s end, and has ruled out appointing himself. Obama, elected in 2004, is the only black senator.

Blagojevich’s appointee would serve until the next national election in 2010.

That makes it tighter for Democrats; especially if you count Joe Lieberman in the Democratic cacus.

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Nov 11 2008

Catholic Church Gearing Up for a Fight with the Obama Adminstration

Category: PoliticsTim @ 7:29 am

The Catholic Church appears to be getting ready for a fight with the Obama Administration on several fronts:

BALTIMORE — The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops told his fellow prelates Monday that while they should “rejoice” at the election of an African-American president, they should confront him over his support for abortion rights.

“The common good can never be adequately incarnated in any society when those waiting to be born can be legally killed at choice,” the president, Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago, said in an opening address to about 300 bishops gathered here for their national meeting. “Common ground cannot be found by destroying the common good.”

Cardinal George’s remarks were a repudiation of the “common good” approach to the abortion issue that President-elect Barack Obama and Democratic Party leaders, including some prominent Roman Catholics, honed in the recent election.

Sounds like the bishops are concerned that a liberal Democrat in the White House may mean more policies that stray from Catholic teachings.

John Podesta, Obama’s transition chief, has said the president-elect is considering reversing President Bush’s limit on federal spending for embryonic stem cell research.

Catholic leaders are among those who consider destroying embryos akin to killing a fetus. Obama, along with many moderate Republicans, has supported the research in an effort to find cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

It’s not all bad news for Bishop George, the Proposition 8 issue in California is a victory for the Church:

George pointed to the success of Proposition 8 in California as an example that America’s emphasis on individuality has gone too far and failed.

“For me, what that confirms is the ideology of individual rights is not adequate to treating every public-policy decision that comes before the people and our legislatures,” he said.

In my opinion, the Catholic Church needs to recognize that the world has changed and continues to change. Unless they adapt their teachings, the world may just move on without them.

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Nov 10 2008

Barack Obama Meets George Bush, First Historic Visit to the White House

Category: 2008 Election,History,PoliticsTim @ 2:59 pm

It’s been a very historic day in American politics. President-elect Barack Obama made his first trip to the White House today and met President Bush in his new home.

The outgoing president and first lady Laura Bush greeted Obama and his wife Michelle with smiles and handshakes as they stepped from their limousine to begin a tour of what will be their new home after Obama is sworn in on Jan. 20.

The two men were headed to the Oval Office where they were expected to discuss the global financial crisis, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other challenges the Republican president will bequeath to his Democratic successor.

It was their first face-to-face encounter — a visit steeped in symbolism — following Obama’s resounding victory over Republican John McCain in Tuesday’s election, which will make him America’s first black chief executive.

Can you imagine what it was like for Obama today? That must be an incredible feeling of responsibility and success to walk into the White House as the future commander-in-chief. Like the outcome of the election or not, you have to marvel at the way our government turns over power with a handshake and a smile. This country is truly amazing.

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Nov 10 2008

President Obama’s Plan – Use Executive Orders to Enact Policies Quickly

Category: PoliticsTim @ 7:20 am

In interesting report out this morning speaks about President Barack Obama’s plan for rapid policy enactment via executive orders:

John Podesta, Obama’s transition chief, said Sunday Obama is reviewing President Bush’s executive orders on those issues and others as he works to undo policies enacted during eight years of Republican rule. He said the president can use such orders to move quickly on his own.

“There’s a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we’ll see the president do that,” Podesta said. “I think that he feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set.”

That’s one way to bring rapid change. Just by-pass the balance of powers and make it happen. I’m not sure it’s constitutionally legal, but it is a tool that can be used. Why do I have such a feeling of dread as I read this…

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Nov 07 2008

Trouble for Obama Already? New Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Freddie Mac

Category: Economy,PoliticsTim @ 7:53 am

Politics is a rough sport. One minute you are on top of the world and the next, you are frowning at questions in front of bright lights. Barack Obama has his first issue with his first hire, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel

President-elect Barack Obama’s newly appointed chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, served on the board of directors of the federal mortgage firm Freddie Mac at a time when scandal was brewing at the troubled agency and the board failed to spot “red flags,” according to government reports reviewed by ABCNews.com.

According to a complaint later filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Freddie Mac, known formally as the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, misreported profits by billions of dollars in order to deceive investors between the years 2000 and 2002.

Emanuel was not named in the SEC complaint (click here to read) but the entire board was later accused by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) (click here to read) of having “failed in its duty to follow up on matters brought to its attention.”

In a statement to ABCNews.com, a spokesperson said Emanuel served on the board for “13 months-a relatively short period of time.”

He’s only had the chief of staff postion a relatively short period of time as well. If Emanuel had a hand in the Freddie Mac disaster, this could be the first major gaff of the Obama Administration. We will have to watch closely and see how this one develops.

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Nov 07 2008

Obama Administration’s Plan to Deal with the Economic Crisis

Category: Economy,PoliticsTim @ 7:16 am

Only days after the election, Barack Obama and his advisers appear to be wasting little time in dealing with the economic crisis that faces our country:

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) — President-elect Barack Obama will meet tomorrow with his economic advisory group, a team that includes billionaire investor Warren Buffett, ex-Commerce Secretary William Daley and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

After the meeting in Chicago, Obama will hold his first press conference since winning the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 4, according to a statement from his transition team. Vice President-elect Joe Biden will also attend.

As Obama builds-out his cabinet, all the world markets will watch one key position.

The market is looking closely at who Obama will name as Treasury Secretary. Top candidates for the job included Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Summers and Volcker.

A Reuters poll of economists found 26 of 48 respondents thought Geithner would be chosen for the job, while Summers came second with 14 votes.

Whoever takes the Treasury job will guide the $700 billion economic bailout package and the regulatory reform needed to prevent a repeat of the current crisis.

While it appears that Summers may be one of the two leading candidates, he may not sit all that well with the left side of the Democratic party:

His experience, however, has a downside for a campaign that sold Americans on a message of change. In the Clinton administration, Summers was a major proponent of free trade, deregulation and free market-oriented policies, which have come under fire in recent months as the economy has spiraled downward.

But even former critics note that in the seven years since he’s left government, Summers has taken a more progressive stance on economic issues. In a regular Financial Times column, he’s pushed for greater financial regulation, restrictions on trade and closing the income gap.

“He didn’t understand that stuff five years ago, but he does now,” said a liberal economist and distant Obama adviser. “A lot of times you have the Greenspan problem, where you get to a point in your economic life and you can’t evolve even if the data tells you too.”

I like the sound of the free-market approach and am a little bit scared by the, “He didn’t understand that stuff five years ago” statement. Didn’t understand what? The need for more government oversight in the market? That will not make Wall Street happy.

What about Geither?

Geithner, who like Obama is only 47 years old, has demonstrated ability to handle a crisis, said economists close the transition. And a confidante of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Geithner been at the very center of the government’s fast-evolving response to the financial crisis, chairing meetings at his New York office.

He began sounding the alarm about risks associated with lacking federal oversight over complex financial products years before the current crisis. In 2005, at his urging, financial services companies established a national registry to help process and track their trades of credit derivatives, an insurance-like product bought by financial services companies to cover risky subprime mortgage investments.

What a mess we are in. Hopefully, one of these two will be the correct choice to get things back on line and moving forward again.

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Nov 06 2008

Rahm Emanuel Chosen as Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff

Category: 2008 Election,PoliticsTim @ 10:03 pm

President-Elect Barack Obama has made his first significant decision, selecting Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff:

Rahm Emanuel Barack Obama

CHICAGO (AP) — Barack Obama said Thursday that fellow Chicagoan and former Clinton administration aide Rahm Emanuel will serve as White House chief of staff. “No one I know is better at getting things done,” Obama said of the hard-charging congressman.

The No. 4 Democrat in the House, Emanuel quoted Obama’s campaign slogan in saying he was leaving a job he loves for one reason: “I want to do everything I can to help deliver the change America needs.”

The selection of a chief of staff is a key first step in building his administration. So, why choose Emanuel?

In selecting Rep. Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff, President-elect Barack Obama turned to someone who has made a quick fortune as an investment banker, earned a six-figure fee to sit on the board of a troubled government-sponsored mortgage company, and became a top recipient of Wall Street campaign cash in Congress, public records show.

“This is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington,” House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said in a statement.

Newsweek’s Katie Paul had this to add:

What’s the best way to play good cop? Get a really hard-core bad cop. That’s precisely what Barack Obama did Thursday in his first move as president-elect, selecting notoriously pugnacious Democratic Rep. Rahm Emanuel to serve as his chief of staff. “No one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel,” Obama said in announcing his pick.

That’s one way of putting it. Emanuel, 48, has developed a reputation as a fierce taskmaster since his days as a Clinton White House operative, so much so that even his mother reportedly calls him “Rahmbo.” He once sent a rotting fish to a pollster who rubbed him the wrong way, and he seems to delight in wagging his partially lopped-off middle finger at rivals (the result of a teenage meat-slicing mishap). “He’s got this big old pair of brass balls, and you can just hear ‘em clanking when he walks down the halls of Congress,” Paul Begalatold Rolling Stone back in 2005, after serving with Emanuel on Clinton’s staff.

Rahmbo. I like the sound of that! With all the financial troubles facing the country, Emanuel would appear to be an ideal choice for chief of staff.

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