Obama In Campaign Mode On Health Reform
With three town hall meetings in the past in the past week, President Obama and Democrats are staying in campaign mode on their push for reform, The Washington Post reports.
"At this point in the debate, the president's team says several things are clear. One is that Obama has taken a hit this summer because of health care and other factors. Another is that he is not continuing to fall. 'There's no doubt he took a dip, but things are stable,' (senior presidential adviser David) Axelrod said. Better news about the economy, he argued, has helped cushion the effects of the health-care debate. 'There's been some stabilization.'"
Reports indicate that in private meetings, the president has been "intensely focused on developing a strategy for winning the health-care debate" once Congress returns to work in September. He also has been reviewing policy options that could be "the basis for a compromise bill" (Balz, 8/16).
The Associated Press on Obama not having time to waste: "In a month when politics often takes a breather - George W. Bush spent his whole first August as president on vacation - Obama doesn't have time to spare. Washington has fallen silent, but each day, the president and his team are trying to sway a skeptical public and skittish lawmakers about overhauling health care. And so on a weekend trip that featured visits to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon, Obama touted his message with town hall events in Montana and Colorado." The AP also reports that during Obama's weeklong family vacation to Martha's Vineyard, Mass., he will be in frequent contact with lawmakers (Feller, 8/17).
CBS News: "A contest between hope and fear is what Mr. Obama has called the fight for health care reform. At week's end, with the decibel level still rising, President Obama's battle cry had the unmistakable sound of his presidential campaign. 'I need your help,' the president said in Colorado. 'I need you to stand against the politics of fear and division. I need you to knock on doors and spread the word'" (Teichner, 8/16).
The Washington Post, in a second story, reports that one of Obama's messages, the one about keeping your current coverage if you like it, may not be true. Provisions may incentivize moving to a public plan and may make it attractive to employers to drop employees' coverage. "In an interview, White House spokeswoman Linda D. Douglass acknowledged that employers could stop offering coverage. 'The CBO has concluded that the dropping of coverage will be minimal,' she said. 'That is not to say that some employers will not drop coverage.' The CBO's analysis 'confirms that health insurance reform would strengthen, not weaken, the employer-based system,' Douglass added in an e-mail.' Under the House legislation, many companies eventually would have to comply with new requirements for minimum benefits, meaning that if they did not already meet the standard they would have to upgrade their insurance. Nonetheless, in his effort to allay fears about health reform, Obama has continued to make his promise" (Hilzenrath, 8/17).
The White House will change its health reform e-mail practices, after some people complained that they had not asked to receive updates, Politico reports: "The complaints concerned a 1,500-word e-mail sent Thursday in the name of White House senior adviser David Axelrod, including '8 common myths about health insurance reform.' The e-mail mimicked the style of chain e-mails attacking President Barack Obama's health-reform plan. The subject line: 'Something worth forwarding.' The White House had sent other e-mails to the list without complaint" (Allen, 8/16).