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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/4/09

The United States Needs Dr. Howard Dean as Health Secretary

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I am astonished at the massive grassroots support piling up in comment columns and, I presume, also in phone calls and emails to change.gov in support of Howard Dean to take the place of Tom Daschle in the Cabinet.

I always liked Dean for this job, above all and I never once felt Daschle's
proximity to Congress was that important to success in this particular job;
although, of course, I understand that Obama had and still has a big plan to get through Congress and that plus Daschle's keen and long standing focus on reforming Health Care, are the primary reasona he picked Daschle.

I don't agree that Dean ever was too "abrasive" for the HHS job; anyway, I
like "abrasive," personally, especially when it comes to the obvious long
overdue imperatives of getting medical prevention through to the Neanderthal and oblivious junk food eatin' and aspartame guzzlin' portion of the exalted American public, and not just perpetuating grandiose schemes of Health Care, blah blah blah.

[I too have been called "abrasive" in my efforts to convince not very bright people that ingesting aspartame that is metabolized as methanol and formaldehyde is really not a good idea, and that they should ignore the corporate lobbyists and help to get this dangerous poison off the market forever by rescinding the FDA approval for aspartame.]

And this is the kind of thing that both the FDA Commissioner and Health and Human Services Secretary should be conquering, not fighting and beating down and responding with corporate pleasantries to citizen's petitions, as the FDA has done for almost 3 decades since aspartame was forced on the market. I have written bills that will ban aspartame and they are proceeding handsomely in the Hawaii Senate right now with 14 members of the 25 member Senate having signed on as cosponsors, includng almost all of the key Committee Chairpersons.

Why indeed should this kind of consumer protection effort and many other related efforts (occuring all over the USA in courts in reaction to the excesses of Big Pharma) have become alien to the FDA, given the purpose of its original legislation back in 1937? Why should FDA be adverserial to efforts to reform and correct it? This really goes to the heart of what the American people need in an Health and Human Services Secretary as well as in an FDA Commissioner, as well as the Change and Reform they expected when they voted for Obama in the first place!

Most find it somewhat shocking that HHS oversees the FDA, which tries to oversee the full 25% of the US Economy that is either food or drugs. The entire matter is kind of absurd in comparison with the way that Cheney and Rumsfeld constantly moved to profit off of the US at war and by doing so, channeling hundreds of millions of dollars into private enterprises like Blackwater and KBR and Halliburton....

This Daschle withdrawal will no doubt be a sobering blow to Obama and to his staff particularly Mr. Rahm, with whom Dean fought bitterly over the 50 state strategy, angering Rahm and perhaps therein disqualifying him for the HHS job, in the mind of Mr. Rahm, but Dr. Dean ultimately was proven right, of course...

I just hope President Obama, Vice President Biden, and their staff are getting the multitude of grass roots support right now for Dr. Dean loud and clear, if the obvious merits of giving him the job are still problematic to them.

What we need is an "abrasive" (and Dr. Dean is not THAT "abrasive"; "charismatic" really is a much more accurate word, having heard him speak several times in person and having spoken with him about the medical issues that are important to me) DNC Chairman in the Cabinet to balance out all of the Republicans, which I really never ever expected....plus, to boot, both he and his wife are physicians, and the nation above all needs a major overhaul in terms more of PREVENTION rather than just more BS on "Health Care."

Great Scot! His Medical degree is from Albert Einstein School of Medicine!
Who else would you trust with a complete overhaul of the FDA, which has been overdue for about 25 years!


The Wall Street Journal and ancillary New York new services like Bloomberg
will mention entirely other people, and put Dr. Dean last, almost as an afterthought in their financial conundrum thinking.

"None carry the political influence of Daschle, 61, the former Senate
majority leader.... Daschle’s combination of political clout and health-care
expertise (he wrote a book on changing the system) was considered critical
to the quick passage of new health-care legislation. Names tossed around
right now by Senators and Congressmen include Kansas Governor Kathleen
Sebelius; U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut; Mark McClellan, a doctor and economist who served in two previous administrations; and former Democratic Party chief Howard Dean," according to Bloomberg.

[Quite rightly, Obama is above all concerned with the 45 million people
without medical insurance. The vacancy temporarily derails Obama's efforts 
to find a new chief at the FDA as criticism mounts about its ability to
police drugmakers, food processors and importers.]

Sebelius, 60, was considered as potential running mate for Obama, but she  failed to pass Kansas health-care overhaul legislation and was the first American insurance commissioner to reject a proposed conversion of a nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield into a for-profit company. “There is no governor in the country that knows more about health and health reform,” said Ron Pollack, head of the consumer group Families USA. Sebelius, her office stated in an e-mail, “is focused on working through the challenges facing our state and continues to belief reforming health care is absolutely vital to our economic recovery.”

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