When I first heard the news that Tom Daschle was tapped as Health and Human Services Secretary, I was a little underwhelmed. I knew Daschle to be a serious voice in favor of universal health care reform, but what exactly he would do toward that end as HHS Secretary seemed unclear. But then I learned he’s also being tasked to be the health reform czar.
As it’s likely this means Daschle will have control over any health care legislation produced by the White House, this changes the significance of the appointment quite a bit. It’s an affirmation — like Obama’s YouTube address yesterday on climate change — that Obama quite seriously intends to tackle health care. And like Rahm Emanuel, Daschle isn’t simply a policy wonk; he knows the legislative process and understands that reform will be necessarily bipartisan.