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Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
11:54 AM ET, 03/ 3/2009

Robert Pear and Jeff Zeleny write in the New York Times: "In naming a new team to run health policy for his administration, President Obama has recruited a formidable array of talent, but has not clarified the lines of authority, leaving various appointees to jockey for primacy. Mr. Obama announced his intention on Monday to nominate Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas to be secretary of health and human services. He also named Nancy-Ann DeParle to coordinate health policy for the administration. Her position, counselor to the president and director of the White House Office for Health Reform, is not subject to Senate confirmation."

From Obama's remarks: "Health care reform that reduces costs while expanding coverage is no longer just a dream we hope to achieve; it's a necessity we have to achieve...I realize that there are those who simply don't believe Washington can bring about this change, and the odds are long. It's failed too many times. There are too many special interests and entrenched lobbyists invested in the status quo. That's the conventional wisdom, and I understand those doubts. But I also know this. I didn't come to Washington to take the easy route or to work for the powerful and the well-connected interests who have run this city for too long. I came here to work for the American people. I came here to deliver the sweeping change that they demanded when they went to the polls in November."

Michael D. Shear writes in The Washington Post: "Former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, who is President Obama's nominee to be the U.S. trade representative, failed to pay almost $10,000 in taxes during the past three years because of a series of mistakes, the Senate Finance Committee said yesterday."

David Lightman writes for McClatchy Newspapers: "Even though President Barack Obama has repeatedly pledged to ban congressional earmarks, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has 16 such projects, worth about $8.5 million, in the bill the Senate is scheduled to begin debating Tuesday."

Juliet Eilperin writes for The Washington Post: "Today President Obama will restore rules requiring U.S. agencies consult with independent federal experts to determine if their actions might harm threatened and endangered species, according to an administration official who asked not to be identified, marking yet another reversal of President Bush's environmental legacy."

Kirk Johnson writes in the New York Times: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney will have to give his account — under oath, in a legal deposition — of what happened at a Colorado ski resort in June 2006 when a man stepped up to protest the Iraq war and was arrested, a federal district judge ruled Monday. The protester, Steven Howards, sued five Secret Service agents in Mr. Cheney’s security detail after the encounter at the Beaver Creek resort. Mr. Howards’s lawyers have argued that Mr. Cheney’s version of events is crucial to getting at the truth....Mr. Howards has admitted to approaching Mr. Cheney and saying the administration’s policies in Iraq were disgusting, or words to that effect. He walked away unhindered by Secret Service agents, but he was arrested by them about 10 minutes later for what they said was the 'assault' on the vice president.

Bob Herbert writes in his New York Times opinion column: "The U.S. economy is in free fall, the banking system is in a state of complete collapse and Americans all across the country are downsizing their standards of living. The nation as we’ve known it is fading before our very eyes, but we’re still pouring billions of dollars into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with missions we are still unable to define."

Arianna Huffington calls former Bush senior advisor Karl Rove "the real intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party," and writes that having Rove on TV "to pontificate about the economy is like having Bernie Madoff on to offer advice about investing."

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