Divisions Plague Dems As Obama Recruits New Allies, Governors
"Four divisive issues could dash President Barack Obama's hopes of overhauling health care: cost, creating a government-run plan, taxing workers' benefits and penalizing employers that don't offer coverage," the Associated Press/Boston Globe reports.
- The Senate Finance Committee says its bill will cost less than $1 trillion, but that's only for the first ten years. Costs could explode in later years, the AP reports.
- The government-run plan "would mark the first time government gets into the business of providing medical insurance for middle-class workers and their families," an idea that Republicans "adamently oppose."
- Some top senators say taxing health workers' health benefits is essential to pay for the overhaul, but labor unions traditional Democratic allies oppose the plan. In his campaign last year, Obama opposed it, too.
- House Democrats plan to penalize employers who don't offer coverage to their workers. Businesses helped defeat President Clinton's health reform plan through their opposition to a similar measure (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/30).
Democrats in Congress remain divided on the controversial provisions of the reform plan, so "President Obama trying to enlist the nation's governors and his own army of grass-roots supporters in a bid to increase pressure on lawmakers without getting himself mired in the messy battle playing out on Capitol Hill," the New York Times reports. Obama has turned to a group of five governors, including Republicans, who may be "more sympathetic" to health reform because their budgets are strained by the rising costs of the Medicaid program, which insures the poor. Obama urged the governors to discuss their experiences managing and reforming their state's health care programs with lawmakers, hoping to bolster support. Meanwhile, lawmakers have asked Obama to intervene more specifically in shaping the legislation, a request he has so far resisted (Stolberg, 6/29).
At an event honoring Democratic stalwarts Monday, however, Obama "pointedly went after critics of his health care plan, many of whom assert that the system needs change but object to his proposal for public health insurance as an option to private insurance," the Associated Press/Arizona Republic reports (Kuhnhenn, 6/29).