Since his tax improprieties and industry ties have become the stuff of headlines, Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination for the Health and Human Services post.
The real question is whether Daschle will hold on to his appointment to head the White House Office on health reform. Remember that Obama also tapped tapped Daschle “to lead a new White House Office of Health Reform, a position that comes with a West Wing office and a voice in virtually all of the administration’s major domestic policy debates.”
Still, Daschle’s withdrawal from HHS certainly undermines the probability of imminent reform. Obama nominated Daschle for his intimate knowledge of Congressional procedure, his progressive policy solutions, familiarity with health care policy, and the lessons he learned fighting for health reform in 1993.
This isn’t to say that Daschle is somehow so uniquely suited for the job that the health care system will rot without him. Other leading contenders for the job, Govs. Howard Dean (D-VT) or Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), could serve as powerful advocates for health care reform.
Ezra Klein reacts:
I’d say the chances of health reform happening in 2009 — and thus at all — are lower now than a week ago. This also makes it more likely that the process is Congress-driven as opposed to White House driven.
,From Daschle’s statement:
“I will not be the architect of America’s health care reform, but I remain one of its most fervent supporters,” Daschle said.
,White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: [Daschle has] “withdrawn from serving in the White House in the capacity we talked about earlier.”