Election 2008

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The Presidential Cabinet: Potential Picks for Energy, Health & Human Services, Homeland Security and Interior

November 13, 2008
by Liz Colville
FindingDulcinea looks at the Departments of Energy, Health & Human Services, Homeland Security and Interior, speculating whom President-elect Obama might pick as secretaries of these departments and what mandates the departments are likely to follow in the new administration.

Department of Energy

The Department of Energy supports energy research and innovation, energy and nuclear safety, “economic competitiveness,” and environmental protection, according to its Web site.

Under an Obama administration, the DOE will likely have a big role in funding more research and technology to help the U.S. eliminate its foreign dependence on oil. The secretary of the DOE needs “expert understanding of the fossil fuel industry—without being owned by it or wedded to its dominance,” writes the Houston Chronicle, adding that a possible choice for the position is Houston Mayor Bill White, who served as deputy energy secretary under President Clinton.

Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health & Human Services regulates health care and other related matters. HHS oversees family and children’s matters, disasters and emergencies, and safety and wellness. It includes the Food and Drug Administration as well as several other departments.

Obama’s health care plan has been compared to Mass. Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 plan and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s failed 1994 plan for universal health care. Obama wants to “provide affordable, accessible health care to all,” claiming that his plan will reduce premium costs by about $2,500 a year.

Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security is a new part of the Cabinet; it was created in 2002 by President George W. Bush as a direct response to the September 11 attacks. The Web site of the department explains that while it was created “to secure our country against those who seek to disrupt the American way of life, our charter also includes preparation for and response to all hazards and disasters.”

Obama is interested in “mandated screening of all cargo” and “coordination among international law enforcement agencies” over matters that are not monitored by any one country, such as “cyberspace, telecommunication grids and financial distribution networks,” according to David Silverberg of Homeland Security Today magazine. Silverberg adds that the secretary of the DHS will likely be responsible for boosting morale at the department and making it “smoothly functioning, coefficient and really exemplary.”

Secretary of the Interior

The Department of the Interior was established in 1849 to “protect and provide access to our Nation’s natural and cultural heritage and honor our trust responsibilities to Indian Tribes and our commitments to island communities.” DOI projects include bird conservation, border protection, education for Native Americans, water conservation and water conflict mediation, and more. A central mission is to preserve and promote the country’s national parks, which are badly in need of increased maintenance.

Brian Montopoli of CBS News suggests that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is a serious candidate for both secretary of state and secretary of the interior. The former Clinton official would “bring a Hispanic face” to the administration. Washington Rep. Jay Inslee is another contender for secretary of the interior, says Montopoli.

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