Obama Set To Reveal Specific Health Reform Details In Strategy Shift
After an August recess that saw Democrats take a beating on their message and calls from lawmakers to provide more leadership, President Obama is likely to change course on his approach to health reform legislation.
The New York Times: "Mr. Obama met on Tuesday with advisers including Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, and David Axelrod, a senior strategist, to prepare for Congress's return to work next week after a month in which many lawmakers have been spooked by contentious townhall meetings and polls registering slipping support for the president and his health care plans" (Calmes, 9/1).
The Associated Press: "... Obama is considering a speech in the next week or so in which he would be 'more prescriptive' about what he feels Congress must include in a health bill, top adviser David Axelrod said Tuesday in an interview. The speech might occur before the Sept. 15 deadline the White House gave Senate negotiators to seek a bipartisan bill, Axelrod said. He suggested that two key Republicans have not bargained in good faith" (Babington, 9/2).
The Wall Street Journal: "Axelrod, responding to recent broadsides against Democratic health plans by Republican Sens. Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said Democrats would reach out to other Republicans to finish a deal this year. Mr. Enzi charged in a radio address Saturday that Democrats are 'cutting hundreds of billions from the elderly' and planning 'to limit or deny care based on age or disability of patients.'" Meanwhile, Axelrod also pointed to a fund-raising letter from Mr. Grassley in which he urged his backers to "help stop 'Obama-Care.'" Axelrod said: "If you're sitting at a table negotiating in good faith, then you probably don't send out mailers saying, 'Help me stop Obama-care.' That's just common sense" (Weisman and Adamy, 9/2).
Politico also spoke to Axelrod: "'We're entering a new season. It's time to synthesize and harmonize these strands and get this done. We're confident that we can do that. But obviously it is a different phase. We're going to approach it in a different way. The president is going to be very active.' Obama's specifics will include many of the principles he has spelled out before, and aides did not want to telegraph make-or-break demands. But Axelrod and others are making plain that Obama will assert himself more aggressively - a clear sign that the president will start dictating terms to Congress" (Allen and Vandehei, 9/2).
Bloomberg: "An Oval Office address, the first of Obama's presidency, or a speech to a joint session of Congress are also being considered, another administration official said" (Goldman, 9/2).
CQ Politics: "Obama remains reluctant to use budget reconciliation rules to pass any overhaul in the Senate with a simple majority, sources familiar with the administration's thinking say," but Obama will "enumerate issues on which Democrats and many Republicans agree, including proposed regulations barring health insurers from basing coverage decisions on individuals' health conditions." He is also "likely to reveal the size of subsidies he is willing to offer the uninsured to buy coverage - an important detail that will influence the total cost of a plan" (Bettelheim, 9/2).
The Washington Post's Dan Balz in a column: "White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who spent part of his August break fishing out west, offered a wry response this week when asked what the administration's plan is for health care. 'Catch more fish,' he e-mailed back. Whether the tongue-in-cheek reply was designed to disguise changes underway inside the White House as President Obama and his team prepare for a fateful fall - or a recommitment to the exceedingly patient approach that has marked the president's health-care strategy - won't be clear until Congress returns" (Balz, 9/2).