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Obama's Cabinet Full ... Except for Drug Czar

December 19, 2008
by Daniel Guarnera
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The Obama Administration's organizational chart is rapidly filling up (click here for a list of appointments made thus far, although unfortunately it's not set up like one of the tree diagrams that police use to identify Mafia leaders in the movies). In fact, after a flurry of appointments over the last few days, the only Cabinet-level post that has not been filled is Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), more commonly known as the Drug Czar.

There are 15 Cabinet posts--14 Secretaries (of State, of Labor, of Defense, etc.) who lead executive departments, plus the Attorney General who heads the Department of Justice. All of these positions have been filled. The Obama Administration will have an additional seven "Cabinet-level" posts*, which include:

  • Vice President (Joe Biden)
  • White House Chief of Staff (Rahm Emanuel)
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (Lisa Jackson)
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Peter Orszag)
  • U.S. Trade Representative (Ron Kirk)
  • Ambassador to the United Nations (Susan Rice)
  • Drug Czar (Not Yet Named)


written earlier about the widely circulated rumors that retiring Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) might be named Drug Czar. Of course, no Cabinet-level appointment is without controversy. Since I last wrote, there has been some pushback from

anti-drug war groups and

others because of Rep. Ramstad's votes against issues like needle exchange programs and medical marijuana and his support for the

Teen Challenge program. Some insiders, including Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), have been pushing from the start for Ramstad to become the next SAMHSA Administrator rather than Drug Czar.

SAMHSA will be the agency with primary responsibility for implementing the parity law that Ramstad and Kennedy wrote and championed. In addition to his work on parity, Ramstad also, along with Kennedy, co-founded the House Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus. Both speak publicly about their substance use disorders and recovery.

For what it's worth, Obama promised a bipartisan Cabinet, and he has tapped two Republicans so far, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Ramstad is a Republican as well--he has also said that he wants to return home to Minnesota after many years commuting to Washington. Early on Ramstad's chief of staff said that it was "




1. Broad knowledge, training, & experience in the poly-addiction field
2. Access to the best practitioners and science of addictive disease
3. Powerful ability to educate the whole country (a la Dr Koop vis a vis nicotine)
4. Ability to withstand negative industry and political pressures


Daniel Guarnera

Daniel Guarnera is the Director of Government Relations for NAADAC, The Association for...

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