In Colorado Town Hall Meeting, Obama Takes Swipes At Insurers, Republicans
President Barack Obama wrapped up his third town hall meeting in five days by continuing his health reform pitch with personal stories and digs at Republicans.
The Washington Post reports that President Obama told a "friendly crowd that reform would require insurance companies to abide by caps on out-of-pocket expenses and accusing some of the effort's detractors of being 'simply dishonest.' About halfway through the questioning, Obama sought to encourage people to have realistic expectations about what could come of health-care reform, his largest domestic initiative. 'The truth is -- I want to be completely honest here -- there is no perfect, painless silver bullet out there that solves every problem, gives everyone perfect health care, for free,' he said. 'There isn't. I wish there was'" (Shear, 8/15).
The New York Times: "As President Obama wages his public relations offensive to sell Americans on the need for overhauling health care, he is using a familiar tactic: trying to make the political personal by putting a human face on a complicated and sometimes abstract debate. At a town-hall-style meeting in a (Grand Junction, Colorado) high school gymnasium on Saturday, Mr. Obama was introduced by Nathan Wilkes, whose family nearly lost their health coverage after costs to care for his 6-year-old son, Thomas, who has severe hemophilia, approached the $1 million lifetime policy cap" (Stolberg, 8/15).
Politico: Obama "used his Saturday evening town hall to pointedly criticize Republicans who have spread the false rumor that 'death panels' would be formed as a result of his health care reform plan ...
Obama also indirectly went after Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who was the most high-profile purveyor of the rumor this past week and is among the GOP lawmakers who supported a similar provision in the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill. 'So when I have people who just a couple of years ago thought this was a good idea now getting on television suggesting that it's a plot ... to sneak euthanasia into our health care system, that feels dishonest to me,' Obama said" (Lee, 8/15).
NPR: "... for the first time during the health care debate, the president brought up an intensely personal topic, the death of his own grandmother days before last November's election. 'I know what it's like to watch somebody you love, who's aging, deteriorate and have to struggle with that. So the notion that somehow I ran for public office, or members of Congress are in this so that they can go around pulling the plug on grandma?' ... It provided an unexpected emotional underpinning to the president's arguments, which have previously been delivered in a measured, professorial style. Though Grand Junction is regarded as a conservative town, the audience in this town hall meeting seemed to lean heavily toward the president's positions" (Gonyea, 8/16).
The Associated Press: "President Barack Obama is using political tactics and rhetorical devices honed in his White House campaign to regain the upper hand in the health care debate over increasingly vocal and organized critics. In person and over the Internet, Obama is trying to counter intense public skepticism over Democratic plans to overhaul the health care system. It's his top domestic priority and arguably his most challenging political fight yet."
"Familiar tools from the Obama candidacy include the town hall meetings where he rolls up his sleeves and discards his tie and jacket; a rapid-response Web site to counter critics' claims; and a populist pitch against the entrenched powers in Washington" (Sidoti, 8/15).
Meanwhile, in a second story, The New York Times reports that the president's strategy may not be as successful as it was during the campaign: "As the health care debate intensifies, the president is turning to his grass-roots network - the 13 million members of Organizing for America - for support. Mr. Obama engendered such passion last year that his allies believed they were on the verge of creating a movement that could be mobilized again. But if a week's worth of events are any measure here in Iowa, it may not be so easy to reignite the machine that overwhelmed Republicans a year ago."
"More than a dozen campaign volunteers, precinct captains and team leaders from all corners of Iowa, who dedicated a large share of their time in 2007 and 2008 to Mr. Obama, said in interviews this week that they supported the president completely but were taking a break from politics and were not active members of Organizing for America" (Zeleny, 8/15).
The Newshour included a report detailing Grand Junction's efficient health care system (Bowser, 8/14).email subscription.