After Vacation, Obama Could Shift Health Reform Tactics
News organizations are analyzing the health reform challenges ahead for the President.
A vacationing President Obama will probably need to switch tactics on passing health care reform when he returns, The Associated Press reports. "Barely eight months in office, Obama is trapped between the jaws of a tightening vise. On one side, Republicans refuse to countenance further government involvement in health care; on the other, liberal Democrats insist Obama keep his campaign pledge to make sure the estimated 50 million Americans who are without coverage can afford health insurance."
And Obama's poll numbers continue to slip. "A Washington Post-ABC News survey found that fewer than half of Americans - 49 percent - say they believe the president will make the right decisions for the country. That's down from 60 percent at the 100-day mark in his presidency."
"Leaving the specifics to Congress has allowed debate to drag on, with three potential bills heading this fall to the House floor. In the Senate, the finance committee has been trying to write a bill but has left the negotiating to six members - three Republicans and three Democrats. In today's highly charged and deeply partisan climate, there is little chance Obama will get what he wants from the Senate process" (Hurst, 8/24).
The left has proven an unlikely barrier to Obama's try at reform, The Washington Post reports: "The immediate cause for the rebellion is growing concern among Obama's progressive allies that he is prepared to deal away the public insurance option to win passage of a health-care bill. Obama insists that he still prefers the public option as part of any legislative package, but some friends on the left now clearly doubt his resolve. Andrew Kohut, who directs the Pew Research Center, said it is difficult to know whether the changes in support simply reflect that liberal Democrats are catching up with other Americans in their perceptions of Obama or whether the uproar over the public plan marks a genuine change in attitudes" (Balz, 8/23).
But The Hill reports that Obama's push could benefit from his vacation to Martha's Vineyard. "Given that the president's push hasn't significantly shifted public sentiment, Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at The Cook Political Report, said the time off could actually help by lowering the decibel level of the debate. 'The question of momentum is a complicated one since momentum here is clearly in the eyes of the beholder,' Duffy said. 'But, a less toxic environment could make it easier for the White House and the Democratic leadership in Congress to get some work done on the issue'" (Rushing, 8/23).
In his Saturday address, recorded before leaving for vacation, Obama addressed "willful misrepresentations and outright distortions" of the reform plans, Politico reports. "He ticked through a series of issues, saying that the proposal will not call for health care for illegal immigrants, will not provide coverage for abortions, and does not include any provision for so-called 'death panels.' 'These are phony claims meant to divide us,' the president said" (Javers, 8/23).
The Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Obama also again waded into the controversy over the proposal's public-insurance option. The president favors such an option, but his recent comments indicating a willingness to compromise on the matter have spurred concerns among some liberals. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) delivered the Republican response in a radio address that called for scrapping the Democrats' health-care overhaul plan in favor of a 'patient-centered' approach, though Republicans have not laid out a proposal in detail" (Williamson, 8/23).
The Christian Science Monitor: Price "called the nation's current healthcare system 'clearly unacceptable.' The challenge, he said, 'is providing Americans more accessible and affordable care without impairing the quality, innovation, and choices that define American medicine'" (Feldmann, 8/22).
In the meantime, the group Conservatives For Patients' Rights "made an ad called 'Surfs Up,' mocking Obama's leisurely beachside vacation," Politico reports in a second story. "'The beach is nice this time of year, but while President Obama vacations, concerns mount about his health care plan,' the ad says. 'Mr. President, when you go back to D.C., drop your government-run health care plan'" (Henderson, 8/23).