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Editor's blog 3rd February 2009: Obama’s hopes on health Daschle’d

Good evening. I hope you're well and not coming down with a cold (which I am - a delayed reaction to the death of John Martyn. What with him and Patrick McGoohan going, it's not been a good couple of weeks for libertarian mavericks).

Obama’s hopes on health Daschle’d
With Tom Daschle’s withdrawal from the Presidential nomination for the health post in the new US administration, it seems that President Obama’s ability to walk on political water has hit thin ice. The best laid plans … see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7868303.stm

This is, sadly, a setback to sensible reform in the US. As Health Policy Today correspondent Tom Smith pointed out (www.healthpolicyinsight.com/?q=node/229), “rare amongst health secretaries, Daschle has written a book on health care reform … among his ideas is the creation of a body which would effectively be a national institute for clinical excellence and rationing (NICER), inspired by the English model. Daschle’s appointment confirms healthcare as a very important political priority and shows that reform will be fought for by the White House.

“Tom Daschle is 61 years old with 30 years in the Senate.  … he has been working with former Senate leaders on recommendations to improve the system”.

A sign of the times
Politics is a dirty business of greasy poles at the best of times: even more so in the polarised, pork-barrel-ruled US system. But as Hunter S Thompson observed as a corrolary to a similarly scathing description of the music industry, there is also a down-side to it.

We do not live in economic times where leaders who have tax ambiguities can expect any free pass. If you are reforming the vested interests of the US healthcare industry, you cannot carry that kind of baggage. Nor can you get the driver whom a friend and client has paid for to carry that baggage to the car for which that friend and client has also paid. Not unless you’ve declared it and paid the tax.

Daschle didn’t and he’s gone for that.