Obama Claims ‘Unprecedented Consensus’ As Critical Week For Health Reform Looms
News outlets looked ahead as the President and Capitol Hill lawmakers prepare for Tuesday's vote in the Senate Finance Committee on health overhaul legislation.
The Associated Press: President Barack Obama sees both 'unprecedented consensus' from outside Congress on his drive to remake the nation's health care system and obstructionism by some on Capitol Hill. 'The historic movement to bring real, meaningful health insurance reform to the American people gathered momentum this week as we approach the final days of this debate,' Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet video address."
"The consensus 'includes everyone from doctors and nurses to hospitals and drug manufacturers' - even Republican governors and former GOP lawmakers, Obama said. It does not extend to congressional Republicans, however, as nearly all of them oppose the Democrats' health care proposals. ... Democrats have made significant strides since Labor Day, when they returned to the Capitol after an August spent absorbing attacks from noisy conservative critics over health care" (Lester, 10/10).
Video of the President's weekly address.
Reuters: "Obama hailed the Finance Committee bill, noting the Congressional Budget Office had concluded the legislation would make health insurance coverage affordable to millions of Americans who do not have it and would slow the growth of healthcare costs. ... But Republicans criticized the plan in their weekly radio address, saying Obama was moving too fast, the measure would cost too much and it would impose hefty new taxes on many ordinary Americans. 'We in the Congress have a duty to tackle this problem, but the solution we settle upon should not be rushed, and the solution should not be worse than the problem we are trying to solve,' Senator George LeMieux said in the address" (Alexander, 10/10).
Politico: "Hours after President Barack Obama used his latest weekly address to tout support from Republicans, the DNC announced Saturday a new national TV ad, 'Republican Support,' pushing the same theme - and trying to open a wedge between current Republican legislators and the party's elder statesmen. The ad highlights quotes calling for health care reform from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with several former office holders: Senate majority leaders Bob Dole and Bill Frist, and George H.W. Bush Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.
It ends with a voiceover: 'But some Republicans are siding with the insurance companies and just saying 'NO' to health insurance reform'" (10/10).
Christian Science Monitor: "An intense, final push is on for a version of healthcare reform to take to the floor of the Senate. The outcome of next Tuesday's vote by the Senate Finance Committee - the last of five congressional panels to complete work on healthcare legislation - is not in doubt. With a three-member majority on the panel, Democrats are sure to vote out the only committee bill to date that meets President Obama's pledge to reform the system without 'adding a dime' to the federal deficit. The key unknown is whether Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine will join Democrats in that vote" (Chaddock, 10/9).
The New York Times: "As the health care debate moves to the floor of Congress, most of the serious proposals to fulfill President Obama's original vow to curb costs have fallen victim to organized interests and parochial politics. And now the last two initiatives with real bite that are still on the table - a scaled-back 'Cadillac tax' on high-cost health plans and a nonpartisan Medicare budget-cutting commission - are under furious assault."
"In an interview, Peter R. Orszag, the White House budget director and the official most associated with the drive to cut costs, singled out the proposed Medicare commission and the "Cadillac tax" as evidence of progress. 'A key priority now,' Mr. Orszag said, 'is to make sure cost containment holds up as we move through the legislative process.' Neither element appears in any of the other four health care bills on Capitol Hill, and both face dug-in resistance in the House" (Kirkpatrick, 10/10).
The Wall Street Journal: "Proposals that would require Americans to buy health insurance -- central to legislation circulating in both houses of Congress -- are under fire from both ends of the political spectrum, with some liberals saying the penalties are too harsh for those who refuse and conservatives denouncing the whole concept. Democratic leaders crafting health-care overhaul legislation aim to bring their measures to the floor of the Senate and House in the next several weeks."
"The idea of an 'individual mandate' to carry insurance is an integral part of Democratic efforts to expand health coverage to nearly every American. Any final legislation is likely to include some type of annual penalty for those who forgo health insurance and are deemed able to afford it" (Adamy and Hitt, 10/10).
The Washington Post: "The House is inching closer to voting on a comprehensive health-care bill, even as the chamber appears so divided that the measure may not attract a single Republican supporter. The final vote, likely in late October, is impossible to predict, but lawmakers and aides from both parties said this week that there is a strong chance the GOP will be unanimous in its opposition. Such a result would mark the second time -- the first came on the economic stimulus package in February -- that the entire House minority rejected one of President Obama's top domestic initiatives. ... Even the most moderate Republicans, who might be inclined to vote with Democrats on big-ticket legislation, say they don't expect to do so on health care" (Pershing, 10/10).