Six months have passed since the morning when Tom Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader, under fire for not paying certain taxes, called President Obama in his study off the Oval Office to withdraw his nomination as health secretary and reform czar.
But these days it often seems as if Mr. Daschle never left the picture. With unrivaled ties on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, he talks constantly with top White House advisers, many of whom previously worked for him.
He still speaks frequently to the president, who met with him as recently as Friday morning in the Oval Office.
And he remains a highly paid policy adviser to hospital, drug, pharmaceutical and other health care industry clients of Alston & Bird, the law and lobbying firm.
Now the White House and Senate Democratic leaders appear to be moving toward a blueprint for overhauling the health system, centered on nonprofit insurance cooperatives, that Mr. Daschle began promoting two months ago as a politically feasible alternative to a more muscular government-run insurance plan.
It is an idea that happens to dovetail with the interests of many Alston & Bird clients, like the insurance giant UnitedHealth and the Tennessee Hospital Association. And it is drawing angry cries of accommodation from more liberal House Democrats bent on including a public insurance plan.
Friends and associates of Mr. Daschle say the interests of Alston & Bird’s clients have no influence on his views. They say he sees no conflict in advising private clients on the one hand and advising the White House on the other, because he offers the same assessment to everyone: Though he has often said that he favors a government-run insurance option, the Senate will not pass it.
“The message I deliver to labor unions and business leaders is the same one I share with doctors, hospitals and insurance companies,” Mr. Daschle wrote in a brief e-mailed statement. “I do not tailor my views to any specific group or client.”
Mr. Daschle is not registered as a lobbyist and recently told U.S. News and World Report that he preferred to describe himself as a “resource” to those in government and industry.
“I’d like to be a resource to my former colleagues, to the extent that I can, to the administration, to the stakeholders and to people interested in just kind of knowing how this is all going to play out,” he said. “I am most comfortable with the word resource.”