Tom Daschle: the Liberal Core of the Obama Administration

Eric Holder will also serve as a liberal advocate on social issues.

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President-elect Barack Obama has selected his cabinet and assembled most of his senior White House staff, and as Inauguration Day approaches, he is ready, as one of his senior aides says, to "hit the ground running." The social topography of any adminis tration is always a good guide to how a new chief executive will govern, and that's certainly true in Obama's case. He is surrounding himself with a diverse combination of centrists and liberals, experienced Washington players and newcomers to the capital, loyalists from his campaign and people he barely knows—all with the goal of delivering results as quickly as possible. In this series, U.S. News looks at Obama's team and explores what it will mean for governing the country.

The liberal core. Former Sen. and Democratic leader Tom Daschle could be the most important liberal in the new government. As the incoming secretary of Health and Human Services, Daschle will be charged with formulating and winning congressional passage for one of Obama's biggest priorities—overhauling the healthcare system. Many liberals have high hopes that Daschle will take the lead internally on a wide range of other liberal social policies, including providing family planning services and fighting HIV/AIDS. Attorney General nominee Eric Holder will also serve as a liberal advocate on social issues important to minorities, feminists, abortion-rights advocates, organized labor, and gay-rights activists, Democratic officials say. On economic issues, some advisers who used to be more conservative, such as Larry Summers, formerly a big advocate of deregulation, are now more willing to use liberal prescriptions like more regulation and deficit spending in a big stimulus package to jump-start the economy.