Obama's Cabinet Heads: Players or Props?
As President Obama spent much of his week touting the benefits of the economic stimulus package, he seemed to use his cabinet secretaries and some well-timed events as props and backdrops in what one might call "Obama Stimulus Roadshow." Some examples:
• During a ceremony announcing his intention to nominate Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as the next HHS secretary, Obama just happens to mention that the recovery plan includes $155 million to support 126 new health centers nationwide. "This action will create thousands of new jobs, help provide health care to an estimated 750,000 low-income Americans across the country, and take another important step toward affordable, accessible health care for all."
• At an event marking the 160th anniversary of the Interior Department, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the department is "working tirelessly to finalize a list of projects so that we can rapidly and wisely invest the $3 billion coming through the Department of the Interior." Getting in on the merriment, Obama acknowledged the department's anniversary and then spent most of his speech touting recovery package funding for "long-delayed work to preserve our natural wonders" and to "rebuild and remodel schools on Indian reservations while providing $100 million in loans to spur job creation in the Indian economy."
• The White House trots out Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at the daily press briefing to remind reporters that government departments are making spending cuts while also doling out billions of dollars of recovery package funds.
• Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki joined other senior White House aides at a forum on health care reform.
• The administration got Attorney General Eric Holder into the mix by having him join Obama in Columbus, Ohio to announce that $2 billion in stimulus funds will help create or save state and local law enforcement jobs. "The Department of Justice is moving ahead of schedule to allocate these resources so we can retain police officers, enhance law enforcement capabilities, and ensure that we have the tools and equipment necessary to build safer communities," said Holder.
• In her statement about miserable February unemployment numbers, the Labor Secretary Hilda Solis stated that, "As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama and I have already moved to increase unemployment insurance benefits and to extend the duration of unemployment insurance. In addition, I am announcing today that the Labor Department is making available more than three and a half billion dollars to states for education, training and re-employment services." (Insert your own snarky "lemons to lemonade" reference here.)
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