White House Reform Strategy Includes E-mail Lists, Union Counterattack
President Obama and the White House are preparing e-mail lists to rally support while also trying to gain control of the nation's health care reform debate, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
"As Democrats faced raucous town halls across the nation this week, President Obama labored to squelch doubts about draft health legislation rather than tout its virtues. He must turn the debate around by next month, when Congress returns to Washington, many analysts say, or repeat the fate of the last Democratic president who tried to reform health care 16 years ago. Trying to avoid the mistakes of former President Bill Clinton, Obama left the bill-writing to Congress, where Democratic divisions, scant GOP support and sharp criticism by the Congressional Budget Office and other neutral experts left Obama without political cover when attacks from the right began" (Lochhead, 8/14).
But, The Associated Press reports, "President Barack Obama's push to revamp health care got a boost Thursday as a new coalition of drug makers, unions, hospitals and others launched a $12 million pro-overhaul ad campaign. Meanwhile, the administration sought to regain control of the health care debate by asking supporters to forward a chain e-mail to counter criticism that's circulating on the Internet. The e-mail by White House senior adviser David Axelrod offers reasons to support Obama's agenda - and myths to debunk. Axelrod wrote that opponents are relying on tactics including "viral e-mails that fly unchecked and under the radar, spreading all sorts of lies'" (Werner, 8/14).
Reform supporters are also readying a counterattack, The Wall Street Journal reports: "Unions and other supporters of the Democratic health program now have plans to confront opponents, including, if necessary, outshouting them at meetings. The AFL-CIO has allocated $15 million for mobilization and communication. Individual unions plan to advertise in states with moderate Democratic lawmakers. The Service Employees International Union is sending members to more than 400 events this month, including an "ambulance tour" across Montana, home of Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, a key player in the health debate. Liberals are hoping to turn the tide before Congress returns to Washington in September, and are even giving members of Congress tips for limiting ugly confrontations, such as holding their town meetings in churches" (Maher and Bendavid, 8/14).
Roll Call: And the White House took the following position on raucous town hall events. "Press Secretary Robert Gibbs... argued that despite extensive media coverage of the protests..., 'I don't think all the town halls are as you're seeing them on TV. ... While I appreciate that you all have decided that every town-hall meeting ends in pushing, shoving and yelling, I don't think many, well, I don't know how many town halls you all have been to. They're not completely indicative of what's going on in America'" (Stanton, 8/13).
The Boston Globe on the GOP's plans: "The Republican National Committee has launched a new website that includes material accusing Obama and Democrats of making inflated claims that under the overhaul anyone can keep their doctor or coverage if they want, and that middle-class Americans won't see higher taxes under the proposals" (Rhee, 8/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.