On Wednesday or Thursday, Obama's economic team, including Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, will meet.
The meetings will be accompanied by press conferences. The goal is to come up with specific marching orders for January, including what bills to introduce, what executive orders to prepare, and to discuss unfilled deputy-level appointments.
The disparate teams are being brought together more than five weeks in advance.
In a stimulus bill that could exceed $500 billion, Obama has already pledged to increase federal Medicaid spending -- perhaps by more than $40 billion over two years -- and to make a large investment in health information technology. Talks are underway about also adding money to retrain medical workers, extending the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and expanding the law that allows unemployed people to purchase health insurance through a previous employer's plan, known as COBRA.
At a Chicago news conference yesterday to introduce Thomas A. Daschle as his choice for health and human services secretary, Obama said major reform of the health-care system "has to be intimately woven into our overall economic recovery plan."
"It's not something that we can sort of put off because we're in an emergency," he said. "This is part of the emergency."
Daschle, a former Senate majority leader, said that "addressing our health-care challenges" offers the best hope for reducing personal bankruptcies, improving American competitiveness and helping "pull our economy out of its current tailspin."
Good stuff on both the policy and political levels.