At present there are three Republicans confirmed or being considered for Obama’s cabinet and now there is speculation that a Republican might be chosen to replace Tom Daschle at Health and Human Services. Marc Ambinder and Karen Tumulty suggest Mitt Romney.
Romney’s name came up because of the attempts at developing a universal health care plan in Massachusetts, but problems with the plan might make his name less attractive. Having a Republican involved in promoting Obama’s health care plan might provide some political cover. Far right Republicans would still object, but more moderate Republicans (if there are any left) and independents might be less likely to see a plan with Republican involvement as an over-extension of government.
Besides the problems with Massachusetts’ plan, Romney’s opposition to abortion rights could be a serious problem (assuming he doesn’t flip back to his earlier pro-choice views). His views on abortion and contraception could create problems at HHS, even if Romney was the right person to oversee expansion of health care coverage.
Many like the idea of a governor running HHS both due to the administrative skills needed for such a massive bureaucracy and due to the experience governors have with Medicaid. Medicare is a totally different beast than Medicaid, perhaps making governors somewhat less qualified than proponents of appointing a governor believe.
Jonathan Cohn suggests some governors and does point out that the more socially liberal Arnold Schwarzenegger would be a far better choice. Cohn fears Arnold would be “too toxic on the left” but I’d find him far preferable to Romney. Besides, Arnold has shown himself to be one of the more rational (and less toxic) Republicans still holding office.