Obama Promotes Health Bill, Asks People To Give It Time To Work
President Barack Obama continued to tout the new health law in an appearance in Maine Thursday.
Los Angeles Times: Ihe president said "it would take four years for the overhaul to be fully implemented but that some provisions would kick in quickly. Those include ending insurance company practices of using preexisting conditions as an excuse to curb benefits and lifting annual caps on payments. ... The president also stressed the advantages for small-business owners. Businesses that have 25 or fewer employees will receive tax credits this year if they provide health insurance. Those credits increase by 2014, with 4 million small businesses benefiting, according to the White House" (Nicholas and Muskal, 4/1).
The New York Times: "Supporting repeal, the president said, means Republicans would take away tax credits for small businesses and tell some Americans they would have to face a lifetime of debt again. 'If they want to have that fight, I welcome that fight,' he said to raucous cheers, 'because I don't believe the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver's seat.'"
Protesters outside the event in Maine made their displeasure known, however, even as people inside were largely pro-reform. "The White House said that it invited both (Maine Republican Sens. Olympia) Snowe and (Susan) Collins to Thursday's speech but that neither could attend. Ms. Snowe's office said she already had a full day of events planned in Maine before learning last Friday of the president's visit." Both women were targeted by Democrats as potential yes votes on health care reform, but both ultimately voted no (Baker, 4/1).
The Hill quotes the president accusing pundits and reporters for premature criticism: "Can you imagine if some of these reporters were working on a farm? You planted some seeds and they came out the next day... 'Nothing's happened. There's no crop. We're going to starve. Oh, no. It's a disaster.' It's been a week, folks," Obama said (Youngman, 4/1).
The Christian Science Monitor: Obama may have picked the right place to talk to a friendly, pro-health reform crowd. "This was the first state to enact a law to prevent insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Since then, it has created discounted drug programs, subsidized insurance for the poor, and established limits on how much insurers can allocate to administrative costs and profits" (Woodard, 4/1).
Politico: Obama alluded to the fact that he was in friendly territory. "'Because of people like you it happened ... you never lost sight of what was right and what was wrong. You knew it wasn't about the fortunes of one party; it was about the future of our country'" (Lee, 4/1).
The Boston Globe: "The speech reflected a newly confident tone by the president, whose first year was characterized by an uphill struggle to overhaul health care while fending off complaints he was not paying enough attention to the high unemployment rate. Fellow Democrats, meanwhile, began to grumble that the White House had allowed Republicans to control the message on the issue, making it even harder for congressional Democrats to pass it" (Milligan, 4/2).
In a separate story, The Christian Science Monitor reports more on Obama's small business comments. "'This healthcare tax is pro-jobs, it's pro-business, and it starts this year,' Mr. Obama said in his Thursday speech in Portland, Maine. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that tax credits to cover healthcare premiums would save small businesses $40 billion by 2019. But it's not clear that small-business owners are buying the argument. Their optimism has turned down in recent months." Polls say many small businesses plan on doing more hiring and spending more but at a slower pace (Belsie, 4/1).
ABC News: "Some small business organizations say the tax credit will help in the short term, but once it is phased out, firms will have to bear the full costs. 'When it comes to the tax credit, it's not going to hurt. The challenge is the tax credit is temporary. When it runs out small businesses will be left paying out the full amount,' said Molly Brogan, vice president of public affairs for The National Small Business Association, an advocacy group that opposed the health care law" (Khan, 4/1).
Time has a transcript of the President's comments (4/1).