And now a slightly more progressive cabinet, posted February 11, 2009 at 09:06 PM
Many liberals, like myself, have been a little disappointed in the absolute lack of strong progressives among Obama's picks for his cabinet. He has made many fine choices for a number of departments but he didn't nominate anyone who could simply be called progressive. (I know, I know, Clinton is a big liberal--yes, on domestic policy, but her charge as Secretary of State is foreign policy, where she's much more centrist). But today the administration got a step closer to including a real liberal--Labor Secretary-designate Hilda Solis.
Solis is a strong progressive Congresswoman from California, deeply committed to labor issues, and very active on environmental issues. She was a big Clinton supporter in the presidential primary this past cycle, but Obama reached out to her almost immediately upon besting Clinton (he needed to shore up his Hispanic support).
Solis's nomination raised cheers among the Dem party's faithful labor base, as well as from progressives of every stripe; and it raised a lot of red flags from business groups like the conservative United States Chamber of Commerce--always a good sign. Solis has worked hard to pass legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act, which will change the rules about how to form a union. It's key legislation for this era when union membership is down nationwide and corporate powers are on the rise. Obama supports it, and it is expected to pass Congress and be enacted within Obama's first year.
Of course, the way you can really tell a lefty liberal has been nominated is by looking at how the Republicans in the Senate have reacted. They have stalled and complained and stalled and stalled some more. Finally, after numerous holds, postponements, and general Republican bullshit, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has referred her nomination out of committee to the full Senate for confirmation. She'll be in office very soon. Good.
Now... how do we get Obama to put Howard Dean in as Secretary of Health and Human Services?