President-elect Barack Obama today named a tobacco-control advocate deputy health chief and is reportedly poised to tap his campaign tech advisor to head the Federal Communications Commission.
Pending the Senate's nod, William Corr, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, will become former Sen. Tom Daschle's No. 2 at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Corr, a health adviser on the Obama transition team, was Daschle’s chief counsel and policy director from 1998 to 2000, when the South Dakota Democrat served as Senate minority leader. Corr also served as chief of staff for Clinton administration HHS secretary Donna Shalala.
“Reforming our health care system will be a top priority of my administration and key to putting our economy back on track,” Obama said today in announcing the pick “Under the leadership of Tom Daschle and Bill Corr, I am confident that my Department of Health and Human Services will bring people together to reach consensus on how to move forward with health care reform.”
An Obama transition team aide told the Associated Press that Corr wouldn’t work on tobacco-related issues if s confirmed to the post. One hot issue Congress is expected to consider this year is whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should regulate tobacco. The House passed legislation last year that would give the FDA authority to do so; Sen. Edward Kennedy (D–Mass.) plans to introduce a bill in the new congressional session.
In other appointee news, Obama's top choice to head up the FCC is Julius Genachowski, the Wall Street Journal reported last night. Genachowski, 46, is a pal of Obama’s from Harvard Law School, and was chief counsel at the FCC in the 1990s.
Among other tasks, the new FCC chief will be in charge of ensuring a smooth, national transition to digital television. The switch is scheduled for Feb. 18, but Obama has said he wants to delay it because of a lack of federal funds to subsidize the $50 price tag for converter boxes. The FCC chair will also be under pressure to expand access to the Internet and improve emergency wireless communications, Bloomberg News notes. The agency regulates the country’s telephone, cable and broadcast operations.
Image of William Coor courtesy of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids