Obama’s Success On Reform Hinges On Health Care Team Of 6
"President Obama's overhaul hinges on six crucial individuals and their skill at negotiating behind closed doors," The Los Angeles Times reports. "The core group consists of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, legislative affairs director Phil Schiliro, communications expert Dan Pfeiffer, (Peter) Orszag, (Jim) Messina and Nancy-Ann DeParle. Each brings particular experience and skills to the task. Each is first and foremost an inside player, comfortable operating behind the scenes." Obama designed this team "for the inside game unfolding now in House and Senate offices. Their job includes gathering intelligence, assessing what lawmakers want and devising compromises to win over balky members without alienating others. But their paramount goal has been -- and remains -- to keep the process moving irrepressibly forward and on a practicable track."
As the health care debate moves from Congressional committees onto the House and Senate Floor, their mission is changing. "Now, Obama's crew will be at the table with lawmakers behind closed doors, crafting compromises to meet attacks from a determined Republican minority and well-financed industry groups" (Nicholas, 10/21).
In a separate piece, The Los Angeles Times has mini-profiles of the six people. Emanuel is "the quarterback of the White House campaign," while Messina's "almost familial relationship with Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)" is an important asset. Schiliro's experience as former chief of staff to Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., "has helped him determine which lawmakers need presidential hand-holding." An expert on health policy, DeParle "has met one-on-one with 135 members of Congress." Pfeiffer is "the media fireman of the health campaign," and Orszag's experience at the CBO helps him "determine the costs and savings of various policy ideas" (10/21).