It’s worth noting that all of the major players on Obama’s health care team are women. Today, the president names Kathleen Sebelius to be HHS Secretary and Nancy Ann DeParle, a friend, to be the White House health care czar. Two other pivotal players are Neera Tanden who was HIllary Clinton’s top domestic policy advisor and is a counselor at HHS and is constantly in meetings at the White House. Same for Jeanne Lambrew who has been perched at HHS even though she’s deputy director of the White House office. Look for more players in the coming weeks as Sebelius staffs up at HHS.
The good news here is that everyone’s worked together. Tanden and Lambrew are both alumni of the Clinton White House and the Center for American Progress. Melody Barnes, the domestic policy adviser, is also a CAP alumnus.
One of the interesting things to watch in the coming weeks is how the White House woos Charles Grassley. Can they get the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee to be supportive of some of their principles. It would seem unlikely. But the presence of Bob Dole at this morning’s ceremony suggests a big push in that direction. It helps that Nancy Ann DeParle is also close with Jim Cooper, the Tennessee Democratic Congressman who is one of the House’s biggest budget hawks. (DeParle was the equivalent of HHS secretary in Tennessee. DeParle and Cooper are both Rhodes Scholars.) Cooper balked at the stimulus plan but he just might play ball on a health care package, say insiders.
It’s going to be a very interesting spring.