The White House Weighed Political Risks In Health Plan Calculation
The Washington Post: "The president's proposal is striking for the extent to which it hews to the basic scale and framework of the bills on which Congress has toiled for months. That decision -- to go big one last time, rather than small -- emerged quickly inside the White House after senior advisers to President Obama concluded privately that his goals for comprehensive changes to the health-care system could not be done piecemeal" (Kornblut and Shear, 2/23).
"Continued pursuit of a comprehensive health-care overhaul had been uncertain following the victory last month of Republican Scott Brown," of Massachusetts, who opposes the health overhaul, The Wall Street Journal reports. Key advisers, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, pushed the president to consider a less ambitious plan in the wake of that loss, and Obama publicly considered it. But, "[t]he proposal, unveiled Monday, reaffirmed Mr. Obama's support for the policy's sweeping objectives: expanding health-care coverage to some 30 million Americans, new efforts to control health spending and new rules for health insurers (Meckler and Weisman, 2/23).
But, it's unclear whether the big gamble will succeed in moving health legislation. "[B]y day's end, President Barack Obama was staring down all the same old problems," Politico reports. Republicans "called it more of the same drafted-behind-closed-doors policy that Americans dislike and continued to push for Democrats to start with a blank slate - a demand Obama has emphatically rejected."
"And Obama's plan did nothing to answer the central question facing Democrats: how to get a bill through the Senate - now one vote shy of a filibuster-proof majority - in one of the most toxic environments for incumbents in recent memory" (Brown and O'Connor, 2/22).
The Christian Science Monitor: "Within moments of the release of President Obama's healthcare plan Monday morning, top Republicans came out swinging." The top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, criticized the proposal because it "further expands the role of government," while his House counterpart, John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the plan "crippled the credibility of this week's [health care] summit by proposing the same massive government takeover of healthcare" that Congress has considered (Feldmann and Chaddock, 2/22).
McClatchy/Miami Herald: "Democratic loyalists were enthusiastic, viewing Obama's nearly $1 trillion proposal as a sign that his yearlong reluctance to engage in shaping the bill had ended. ... Obama's blueprint, or a bipartisan summit to discuss healthcare scheduled for Thursday, seemed unlikely to trigger a new bipartisan effort to pass a bill, however" (Lightman and Thomma, 2/23).
The Associated Press: "Many Democrats said that despite all the bad-news polls and the loss of their filibuster-proof Senate supermajority in a special-election upset, it would still be better to pass a sweeping bill than make small changes or none at all" (Werner, 2/23).
In a separate story, The Wall Street Journal explains more details about the "legislative contortions" and "adjustments" that would be necessary in order for Democrats to use budget reconciliation process to navigate around a filibuster (Hitt, 2/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.