Administration Officials Court Key Lawmakers On Health Care
Administration officials are increasingly courting key stakeholders on health care. The New York Times reports: "After months of cutting deals and stroking drug makers, hospitals and doctors, the president's aides are laying the groundwork for a final round of Congressional arm-twisting. ... One Democrat who consults frequently with the White House said that a main goal of the administration has been to prevent any Democrat from publicly declaring opposition to the measure." So far only West Virginia Senator John D. Rockefeller IV has taken exception, but he also "scaled back his criticism after a private Oval Office session with the president."
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, an experieced vote counter, is in charge of the health reform campaign. , the chief of staff, runs the campaign out of his West Wing office. A former congressman, he knows how to count votes. "Mr. Emanuel oversees two working groups: a policy group, run by Nancy-Ann DeParle, the head of the White House Office of Health Reform, and a political group, run by Jim Messina, the deputy chief of staff. They are deeply engaged in what Chris Jennings, who advised President Bill Clinton on health policy, calls 'intelligence seeking' - trying to learn who has problems with the legislation, what those problems are and what it will take to win each member's vote" (Stolberg, 9/26).
Meanwhile, the Associated Press/Boston Globe reports while Obama spent most of the past week focused on global and economic issues while meeting with world leaders in New York and Pittsburgh, "on Saturday [Obama] resumed his push to overhaul the health care system, telling a Congressional Black Caucus conference that there comes a time when 'the cup of endurance runs over'" (Superville, 9/27).