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Eye Opener: Jan. 8, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Thursday! Tom Daschle, Barack Obama's nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, becomes the first appointee to face Senate confirmation today at 10 a.m.

"Lawmakers will most likely question him sharply about one of the most contentious aspects of President-elect Barack Obama’s domestic agenda: his call for a new public health insurance plan to compete with private insurers," reports today's New York Times. "No other proposal so clearly defines the political and philosophical differences between Mr. Obama and Republicans, or provokes such deep disagreements."

The Office of Management and Budget continues to earn the attention of Obama, as he will name his good friend, Cass R. Sustein, "a Harvard University law professor who grew close to Obama during their years at the University of Chicago, will become the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs," reports The Post's Michael D. Shear.

"In his new position, Sunstein will oversee reform of regulations, seeking to find smarter approaches and better results in health, environment and other domestic areas, a transition source said. The office Sunstein will head is part of the Office of Management and Budget and is responsible for reviewing draft regulations and overseeing the implementation of government-wide policies aimed at making federal agencies more efficient."

The Sustein pick comes one day after Obama named Nancy Killefer to the newly created position of chief performance officer. "She also will be the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget," reports

In other news...

In the Loop: Several bits of information on appointments to mid-level jobs at Justice, Treasury and State.

'Dear John Doe': The Army mistakenly sent letters addressed "Dear John Doe" to 7,000 family members of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, unleashing calls from troubled relatives and prompting a formal apology yesterday from the Army's top general," reports The Post's Ann Scott Tyson. "The letters, mailed late last month by the Army's Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operation Center in Alexandria, Va., contained information about private organizations that assist families of the fallen. But in what the Army called a printing error by a contractor, the letters did not contain specific names and addresses; instead, they had the placeholder greeting 'Dear John Doe.'"

Influential Advisers to Bump Cabinet Secretaries?: "Not since Richard M. Nixon tried to abolish the majority of his Cabinet has a president gone so far in attempting to build a West Wing-based clutch of advisers with a mandate to cut through -- or leapfrog -- the traditional bureaucracy," reports The Post's Michael D. Shear and Ceci Connolly. "Obama's emerging 'super-Cabinet' is intended to ensure that his domestic priorities -- health reform, the environment and urban affairs -- don't get mired in agency red tape or brushed aside by the ongoing economic meltdown and international crises. Half a dozen new White House positions have been filled by well-known leaders with experience navigating Washington turf wars."

Court Rules on Veterans' Preference: "A federal court has ruled that veterans' preference rights must be applied in the same way for both competitive and excepted service positions, but declined to address larger questions about the constitutionality of the Federal Career Intern Program and the president's power to decide which jobs are competitive," reports "The National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees both hailed the ruling as a victory for veterans applying for federal jobs. But they expressed disappointment that [the judges] also decided that since Defense violated Gingery's veterans' preference rights, the court did not need to determine the legality of the Federal Career Intern Program."

Today in History: On this date in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson outlined his 14 points for peace after World War I and in 1992, President George H.W. Bush, suffering from stomach flu, collapsed during a state dinner in Tokyo. More here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 8, 2009; 7:37 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Next: Suggested Questions for Tom Daschle

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