Obama’s Health Reform Political Maneuvers May Prove Successful
"After months of plodding work by five Congressional committees and weeks of back-room bargaining by Democratic leaders, President Obama's arms-length strategy on health care appears to be paying dividends, with the House and the Senate poised to take up legislation to insure nearly all Americans," The New York Times reports. "Democratic leaders and senior White House officials are sounding increasingly confident that Mr. Obama will sign legislation overhauling the nation's health care system - a goal that has eluded American presidents for decades." Legislative progress, however, "has come at a price," and "from here on, the challenges will only grow more difficult." Obama may lose votes in the House over abortion coverage and from liberals who want a stronger public option. "In the Senate, where Democrats will need support from every member of their caucus to reach a critical 60-vote threshold to avoid a potential filibuster, Mr. Obama's hands-off strategy carries particular risks" (Pear and Stolberg, 11/1).
Politico reports that the impression that Obama has seemed "distant from the grueling, detailed work of crafting the reform law" is "somewhat misleading. In private meetings and chance encounters and during Air Force One flights, Obama has worked behind the scenes to move the process along, keep abreast of policy disputes and monitor House and Senate vote counts." White House aides "describe the president as 'very engaged' but mindful of the need to give Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plenty of maneuvering room to get bills passed in their chambers. It's a role that requires finesse and balance. While the Republicans have a history of operating in a top-down mode, the Democrats jealously guard their prerogatives, and Obama has had to be more of a shepherd than a CEO" (Cummings, 11/2).