Some Dems Think Obama May Need To Harden His ‘Gentle’ Style In Pushing For Reform
The New York Times: Pushing health care reform through a skittish Democratic caucus while facing strong Republican opposition is testing the White House. "Mr. Obama has not been the sort to bludgeon his party into following his lead or to intimidate reluctant legislators. And while he has often succeeded by relying on Democratic leaders in Congress to do his bidding - the House and Senate, after all, both passed versions of the health legislation last year - it is not clear whether his gentle, consensus-building style will be enough." A criticism of the president is that he's given Congress too much room to make deals and trade-offs on the legislation. "But some Democrats say the road to passing a health care bill will not be lined with lofty appeals and (a) gentle touch. Rounding up the necessary 217 votes in the House will be tough; tougher still will be persuading the Senate to pass a bill using the parliamentary maneuver known as reconciliation, which needs only a simple majority and averts a filibuster." Obama may have to engage in some political arm-twisting to get his health overhaul agenda through, The Times reports (Stolberg, 2/23).
Meanwhile, The Boston Globe reports on John McDonough, a leader of the Massachusetts health insurance reform who came to Washington at the request of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy to work in the Senate on a health overhaul. He left Washington "empty-handed this month. McDonough remains convinced that the parties have irreconcilable differences on policy, and that Republicans see no political advantage to signing on to a Democratic plan. He is hopeful, even optimistic, that Democrats will pass a health care nonetheless, using a procedure called reconciliation that lets the Senate pass legislation by a simple majority" (Wangsness, 2/24).
Other reports focus on the challenges faced by some lawmakers.
The Associated Press: The only Republican to support health care reform legislation so far, Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, "the unlikely congressman from New Orleans, is facing the perils of bipartisanship unlike any other lawmaker in Washington - trying to please a heavily Democratic constituency while relying on core conservatives for money to fuel his campaign." His fundraising has dropped by 40 percent since his vote (Evans, 2/24).
The (Springfield, Mo.) News-Leader: Another lawmaker struggling with her decision on a health overhaul is Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who "supports a renewed effort to salvage a government-run insurance plan as congressional leaders and President Obama search for compromise on health care reform" but remains uncommitted on whether to support Obama's health reform plan "pending the outcome of Obama's health care summit Thursday. 'She is hopeful that the bipartisan meeting later this week is productive since the status quo is simply not an option,' (McCaskill spokeswoman Maria) Speiser said" (Livengood, 2/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.