A Republican at HHS?

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.

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  1. 1
    DB says:

    Please no, not Romney, unless he adheres to the President’s positions on abortion, family planning, and the such. And that goes for any conservative he appoints. I am at a loss if he thinks a Republican will be socially liberal enough to run that organization.

  2. 2
    Theresa Jones says:

    Whoever is chosen, let’s hope he/she does the right thing and shuts the department down.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    So we just take away the Medicare coverage from all the elderly and disabled people in the country? Sounds like a real well thought out plan.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:


    While I could see why some writers could have come up with Romney’s name I would be surprised if he was really under consideration by the Obama administration.

    There might be some Republicans who are sufficiently liberal on social issues to be considered, such as possibly Schwarzenegger, but I also doubt he’d be interested. Unfortunately most of the social liberals have been run out of the party.

    Perhaps during the GOP’s time in the wilderness social liberals might be able to make a come back. It’s our best chance at once again having a viable two party system.

  5. 5
    Jan says:

    Is there some reason Ted Kennedy is not even being mentioned?

    If he can still function as a Senator, with myriad and diverse issues confronting him on a daily basis, he can certainly function as Sec of HHS, working on his primary issue.

    It seems like a no-brainer to me; and, with Kennedy at HHS, Obama can make the WH czar anyone he wants ( including Mr. Daschle).

    So… Why not Senator Ted Kennedy?

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:


    I have seen Kennedy’s name mentioned in some articles speculating on replacements for Daschle. (This particular post does not mention him as I limited it to speculation that a Republican might be picked. There are far too many other names being mentioned for me to consider them all).

    The speculation on Kennedy does generally cite his health as one reason he might not take the position. While he can function as a Senator at present, we do not know how long this will continue. It is also easier for a Senator to take time off than it is easier for someone running a massive department.

    In theory Obama could still make Daschle the White House health-reform czar but politically this is no longer likely. If they had anticipated this problem from the start, they might have been smarter to give Daschle the White House position and not the HHS spot as the controversies might not have come up in a position not subject to Senate confirmation. On the other hand, the money which Daschle earned from health care companies would still be a potential embarrassment which could have come up at some point, compromising White  House efforts.

  7. 7
    Sarah says:

    Whatever tax cheating lobbyist he appoints, lets hope they do the right thing, and continue to pretend to do the American people’s business while enriching themselves – the true Chicago Obama/Blago way.  

    Or, they will even do the reallyyyyy right thing, and shut down the unconstitutional Commerce department, refuse to adhere to unconstitutional POTUS cases such as Darby, Wickard, and Carter Coal, and will restore our great democracy back to a real democracy, and not a Roman empire with emporor Obama/Caligula.  

  8. 8
    Sarah says:

    P.S.  Is this a site where anyone truly gets to comment, or a heavily filtered echo chamber like the Daily Kos, where I was kicked off last year for supporting Hillary instead of “O”

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:


    Have you considered the possibility that perhaps they will appoint someone other than a tax cheating lobbyist? The fact that Daschle’s nomination was withdrawn suggests their interest in doing so.

    Were you kicked off Daily Kos for simply supporting Obama, or for making ridiculous and unfounded attacks such as tying Obama to Blago and even calling him a Caligula-type Emperor? Then there’s your weak legal analysis, such as calling the Commerce Department along with Supreme Court decisions unconstitutional. While you might have grounds to disagree with Supreme Court decisions, they and not you are the ones who decide whether something is Constitutional.

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