President-Elect Obama has just named former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services and head of the new White House Office of Health Reform. Daschle, a health-care reformer who has proposed a “Federal Health Board” to “promote quality and save money by making the health-care system more transparent,” gave a short speech, and then Obama took questions from the press, most of which were about Rod Blagojevich.
Obama responded with good-government boilerplate about the opposed political “traditions” of public service and “what’s in it for me,” and the news that Patrick Fitzgerald’s legal team had not contacted him personally, but that he was looking into who on his team had been contacted and would get back to reporters on that. He also mentioned the statements Blagojevich allegedly made about him, which he wouldn’t repeat because the news conference “is a family program.”
Someone finally asked about health care, and Obama said that America’s lousy health care system is not distinct from the financial meltdown but “part of the emergency,” and he would address it in such a way that would not “bankrupt” the country.