Saturday, August 1, 2009

Michelle Obama and health care

Us older folks will recall that Hillary Clinton carried the ball for Bill in pushing for health care reform in 1993. That didn’t work out so well.

So, what does Michelle Obama think about health care reform? We forget that she was employed by The University of Chicago Medical Center until she moved to Washington in January.

Her job title? Vice president for community and external affairs

Her salary history?
2004 $121,910
2005 $316,962
2006 $273,618
2007 $103,633 (switched to part time)
2008 $62,709 (Took unpaid leave to campaign)

Her effectiveness?
In 2006 a $1 MILLION federal grant was authorized to build a new pavilion at the hospital. And who wrote the earmark and submitted it? None other than Senator Barack Obama.

Now, (or should it be looked into it and declared that everything is on the up-and-up. Whew. I thought we had a scandal here with all the close ties and earmarks.

So, what did find out? Well, the numbers are correct but there is no favoritism here. Who says? Well, the principal players in this Chicago political drama.

For example, says: But Michael Riordan, who served as the medical center's president at the time, told the Chicago Tribune that it had nothing to do with her husband. "She was hired before Barack was Barack,” Riordan told the newspaper. "She is worth her weight in gold, and she is just terrific." The Tribune reported that Riordan "had planned early on for the position [of executive director of community affairs] to evolve into a vice president’s post as a way of showing the organization’s commitment to community outreach."

So, if the guy who hired her and promoted her says there is no scandal it must be true. (I’m beginning to lose respect for

Here’s another chunk of the report: Second, the column implies that her "networking" was what caused her then-senator husband to request a "$1 million earmark for the UC Medical Center" back in 2006. But that's unsubstantiated also. He did request the funds for the "construction of a new hospital pavilion" at the University of Chicago, but both Obama and hospital officials denied that the request was influenced by his wife's position. And during the campaign, Obama's aides were quick to point out that the request was one of many projects that the former senator made in 2005 and 2006 that were killed by Congress.

So, Obama and hospital officials deny any influence peddling. (They write this with a straight face? It usually takes a wiretap to get a confession in this town. Do you think they’ll own up to something in The New York Times?)

And here’s the final official explanation from Lastly, the column questioned the hospital's decision not to fill the position vacated by the first lady, asking: "How can that be, if the work she did was vital enough to be worth $317,000?" It's true that after her departure, the hospital did not fill the position of vice president for community and external affairs. But the column doesn't mention that she had reduced her work schedule to part time well before she left and wasn't making that much money when she officially resigned. Easton told us that "the responsibilities related to that position have been absorbed by those in other roles." Dr. James Madara, CEO of the Medical Center, announced that the Office of Community and External Affairs would be "reorganized" under Dr. Eric Whitaker, executive vice president for strategic affiliations, according to a hospital press release.
Now there’s a name I remember. Dr. Eric Whitaker is a classmate of the Prez from Harvard, one of the ivy league inner circle of blacks. Whitaker still shoots hoop with Obama whenever he can. (The above AP photo was taken in Hawaii just last August.)

And Barack put in a good word for Whitaker to none other than Tony Rezko. And suddenly Whitaker is appointed by Blago to be the Director of the Illinios Department of Public Health.

They remain close friends. When the White House called a forum on health care reform on March 7th, Whitaker was right there with Valerie Jarrett and Zeke Emanuel…all Chicago political hacks.

So, don’t worry. There’s no favoritism here. says so. But I think it tells quite a story about Obama, politics, and the evil medical business. And it explains why Michelle isn’t the frontman on health care reform.

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