In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, Karl Rove applauds Barack Obama’s appointment of a “first-rate economic team,” cheering the selections of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers, Council of Economic Advisers chief Christina Romer, and OMB head Peter Orszag.
But while issuing compliments of most of Obama’s nominees, Rove issued this back-handed swipe at Melody Barnes, who ThinkProgress first reported would be chosen to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council:
The only troubling personnel note was Melody Barnes as Domestic Policy Council director. Putting a former aide to Ted Kennedy in charge of health policy after tapping universal health-care advocate Tom Daschle to be Health and Human Services secretary sends a clear signal that Mr. Obama didn’t mean it when his campaign ads said he wouldn’t run to the “extremes” with government-run health care.
During the campaign, Barnes helped inform Obama’s health care approach — the same approach he is now promising to pursue in office. Obama pledged to bring together “doctors and patients, unions and businesses, Democrats and Republicans” together to build on the existing system and “reduce the cost of health care to ensure affordable, accessible coverage for all Americans.”
Taking a look at the health care stats in the Bush/Rove era, it’s clear that most Americans have seen a decline in their health care at the same time that health insurance companies have reaped tremendous gains:
– Since 2000, the ranks of the uninsured have grown by 7.2 million.
– Health care premiums have doubled under Bush. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have risen from $5,791 in 1999 to $12,680 in 2008.
– The fastest growing component of health care is health insurers’ administrative costs.
– Enrollment in Medicare private plans doubled. Through such plans, insurers “have increased the cost and complexity of the program without any evidence of improving care.”
– The combined profits of the nation’s largest insurance companies and their subsidiaries increased by over 170 percent between 2003 and 2007.
Obama is putting together a team, starting with Melody Barnes and Tom Daschle, who will be committed to ending the unfairness and inequity of the current health care system. Meanwhile, Karl Rove is committed to defending the health insurance industry and preventing any change to the status quo. Fortunately, the American people are proclaiming that they are ready for the change that Obama is promising.