Pete Rouse is President Obama’s new chief of staff. But what is his background in healthcare?
It was the million-dollar question in Washington during the past week. Who would succeed Rahm Emmanuel as President Obama’s chief of staff? The position closest to the president, the chief of staff is responsible for overseeing the president’s agenda. Announcing Thursday that longtime advisor and Democratic veteran Pete Rouse would replace Emmanuel, President Obama turned a page for his administration just a month before November’s midterm elections. A masterful political operative once known as the “101st Senator,” Rouse has a deep background in politics and even healthcare.
Considered the anti-Emmanuel, Pete Rouse is everything his predecessor is not. Deliberately private in his personal life, Rouse rarely talks to the media and enjoys relative anonymity in D.C. Instead of the tough-talking, “Chicago style” politics of Emmanuel, Rouse employs a steadier, calmer approach. As the President’s former Senate chief of staff, Pete Rouse has been part of the Obama inner circle since the president’s political beginnings, but he’s no outsider to Washington. As “one of Washington’s savviest political thinkers,” Rouse has served as the envoy for the Obama administration to Congress, where he has been in the middle of nearly every major legislative vote during the past 30 years.
But of all the industries with which Rouse has worked, healthcare is one of the top. As the former chief of staff to Senator Tom Daschle, President Obama’s initial pick to be secretary of Health and Human Services, Rouse helped Daschle forge his views on the healthcare industry and how best to solve many of its problems. Though Daschle has long been a supporter of universal healthcare, it is unclear what Rouse’s personal position is on the topic. But, as a devout Democrat of more than three decades, it is clear his views are center-left. Rouse played a critical role in helping the administration pass their reform plans in March. Using his long list of Capitol Hill connections, Rouse was seen lobbying members of Congress and convincing former colleagues that the White House’s plan was worth the vote.
As the man who initially drafted the “Strategic Plan” – a document that shaped the goals of then-Senator Obama to maximize his chances at a successful White House bid – Rouse has been the strategist behind nearly every major Obama decision. The only question remaining is how he will handle all the added publicity…
Kevin Fickenscher, MD
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