Mountie Up

Obama heads north and lays the foundation for health care expansion.

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President Obama jets off to Canada today to talk trade. It’s good to see Obama handling foreign policy from somewhere besides his desk for a change—even if he’s spending only seven hours with our neighbors to the north. And as he gets ready to tackle health care, he is reportedly ready to announce a savvy choice for secretary of health and human services. That move is soured somewhat by his ongoing disregard for a campaign promise not to welcome recent lobbyists into his fold, but for keeping at his promise to close Guantanamo, Obama holds steady at 40 on the Change-O-Meter.

Looking to maintain a good relationship with America’s largest trading partner, or maybe just looking for a break from domestic policy, Obama heads to Canada today to discuss trade and the environment. We won’t hold our breath waiting to hear Obama talk tough on environmental issues—Canada’s most polluting variety of oil, tar sands, is what made the country America’s top oil provider. In the meantime, however, it’s good news that Obama is beginning to do his own foreign-relations dirty work, especially in a country whose population had some hard feelings toward America’s last commander in chief. For this, he gets a 10 on the ‘Meter.

Meanwhile, it looks like he’s ready to choose Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas to replace Tom Daschle as his nominee for secretary of HHS. So far, there has been no indication her taxes aren’t in order, and what’s more, she has a successful record as a bipartisan negotiator. This can’t hurt, the New York Times points out, as Obama poises to expand health care coverage, which is bound to be ideologically divisive. It’s not a moment too soon, either, with Peter Orszag, Obama’s Office of Management and Budget director, saying that Medicaid and Medicare changes loom in ongoing discussions of Obama’s first budget. For his choice of Sebelius, the ‘Meter gives 30 points.

Meanwhile, Adolfo Carrion became the White House’s director of urban affairs. But some wonder if he represents another lobbying exception on Obama’s team. For continuing to flout an important campaign promise, Obama loses 5.

Finally, Eric Holder will travel to Guantanamo on Monday to begin to determine where each of the 245 prisoners still detained there belongs. For keeping up his promise to close Gitmo, Obama recovers the 5 points he lost with Carrion.

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