Very soon, a whole collection of people will be headed to the Senate for confirmation hearings. Among them will be Tom Daschle. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, given the context of his past relationships with lobbying and healthcare:
Speaking of lobbyists…That lauded great head “liberal” of the Obama cabinet, Tom Daschle, former Senate leader, is now hailed as the Wizard of the Office of Health Reform and nominee for Health and Human Services.
Ignore that lobbyist behind the curtain. The Wizard has a not-so-well-kept secret. His wife, Linda Hall Daschle, is one of the most influential lobbyists in Washington D.C. And Daschle himself was a paid “consultant” for the law firm Alston and Bird and sits on the board of several health related industries.
According to a recent investigation by the Washington Post of Senate lobbying reports, Linda Hall Daschle, has aerospace and airline industry clients, but also lobbied for some “health care-related firms in the past.”
The Post article states she had such accounts as the pharmaceutical company Amgen Inc. and cigarette makers Lorillard Tobacco and Philip Morris Cos. in 1999. I didn’t know the “tobacco lobby” was a health-related industry, except for maybe causing “poor health” among its clientele. Oddly enough, Mrs. Daschle has her bases covered: Amgen Inc. manufactures drugs to battle cancer.
Despite these conflicts of interest, Tom Daschle’s appointment is a slam dunk for President Obama. While it’s not actually crossing the line, Daschle’s recent work is close enough to argue the ethics of making a “no lobbyist” pledge to his supporters.
Right now I would tend to agree very much with that last paragraph. However, confirmation hearings do sometimes turn up issues that preclude confirmation. It will be informative to see where in the lineup Mr. Daschle appears. I would think he’ll make the top five (that is, will be one of the first five to receive a nomination hearing).