Tom Daschle may not be Health and Human Services secretary, but he still has President Obama’s ear. The ex-senator met with Obama yesterday to discuss health care reform, the Washington Post reports. Daschle has been informally advising senior aide Pete Rouse and health care czar Nancy-Ann DeParle throughout the process, but some Democrats say things would have gone better had he been at the helm.
Since stepping down, Daschle’s been an outspoken advocate for universal care and a public option. But he’s also worked for a law firm advising United Health Group, an insurance giant that opposes a public option. The White House says it’s not worried about any conflict of interest. “The president knows and expects that, when he asks Senator Daschle a question, that he’s getting the opinion of Senator Daschle and not anybody else,” said Robert Gibbs.