Obama Urges Groups To Stop Attacks
"President Obama, strategizing... with congressional leaders about health-care reform, complained that liberal advocacy groups ought to drop their attacks on Democratic lawmakers and devote their energy to promoting passage of comprehensive legislation," The Washington Post reports. "In a pre-holiday call with half a dozen top House and Senate Democrats, Obama expressed his concern over advertisements and online campaigns targeting moderate Democrats, whom they criticize for not being fully devoted to 'true' health-care reform." In the call, "Obama said he is hoping left-leaning organizations that worked on his behalf in the presidential campaign will now rally support for 'advancing legislation' that fulfills his goal of expanding coverage, controlling rising costs and modernizing the health system."
"In recent weeks, liberal bloggers and grass-roots groups such as MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, Service Employees International Union and Progressive Change Campaign Committee have targeted Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Arlen Specter (Pa.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.)" for hedging on a government-sponsored health insurance option." Also during the call, "leaders of both chambers expressed optimism that they will hold floor votes on legislation to overhaul the $2.2 trillion health system before Congress breaks in early August. For his part, the president vowed to use his strong approval rating with voters to continue making the case for sweeping reform, according to one congressional staffer with knowledge of the conversation. Obama also hinted that efforts are under way to discourage allies from future attacks on Democrats" (Connolly, 7/4).
Bloomberg reports that Obama faces another challenge on health care reform: middle class voters. "As Congress returns this week to craft the legislation, Obama's push to revamp an industry that makes up 17 percent of the nation's economy will need support from American families earning between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, a group that pollsters define as middle class and which makes up about a quarter of the electorate. That backing is shaky, polls show." And "if middle-class voters are concerned that his plan focuses more on the estimated 46 million uninsured than on reducing their own costs, they may oppose significant changes in health care, analysts say." Bloomberg reports that "A Quinnipiac Poll released July 1 highlighted the qualms of middle-class Americans. Sixty-three percent said the main goal should be to reduce costs." But an NBC poll "found most Americans think Obama's aim is to cover the uninsured." Matt Bennett, vice President at Third Way, "a Washington research group that supports Obama's plan" and a former deputy assistant to President Bill Clinton, says reform failed in 1994 because "the middle class jumped off the bandwagon [Obama] needs to ensure that the middle class remains convinced that they will be the beneficiaries of the reform" (Przybyla, 7/6).