Obama Signs Bill, Continues Hard Sell Of Health Reform Law
President Obama signed the last piece of the health reform law Tuesday.
Politico: "'Today, we mark an important milestone on the road to health insurance reform and higher education reform,' Obama said in a speech on the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College. 'But more broadly, this day affirms our ability to overcome the challenges of our politics and meet the challenges of our time.' Obama's bill-signings came as he entered the hard-sell phase of his sweeping campaign for heath care reform. His approval ratings have seen a slight bump since he signed the first health care bill last week, but a CNN poll released Tuesday found a majority of Americans disapproved of the new law, 56 percent to 42 percent" (Lee and Marr, 3/30).
The Examiner has video of the event.
The New York Times: "In his speech, Mr. Obama also sought to temper some expectations. 'The health insurance reform bill I signed won't fix every problem in our health-care system in one fell swoop,' he said. 'But it does represent some of the toughest insurance reforms in history. It represents a major step forward toward giving Americans with insurance and those without a sense of security when it comes to their health care. It enshrines the principle that when you get sick you've got a society there, a community that is going to help you get back on your feet. It represents meaningful progress for the American people'" (Herszenhorn, 3/30).
But the "American public expects that Obama's new health care reform law will cause costs to rise and quality of care to drop, new opinion polls find," according to The Christian Science Monitor. "The new polls suggest that Democrats still have a big sales job ahead of them as November House and Senate elections draw closer, and as Americans try to learn more about what the law means for them." For example, "55 percent of Americans expect their own costs for healthcare to be higher because of the reforms, and 60 percent say the nation's overall health tab will rise, according to a Washington Post poll" (Trumbull, 3/30).
The GOP has grown weary of calls to repeal the law as they worry that such passion could backfire, The Associated Press reports. "It's fine to criticize the health law and the way Democrats pushed it through Congress without a single GOP vote, these party leaders say. But focusing on its outright repeal carries two big risks. Repeal is politically and legally unlikely, and grass-roots activists may feel disillusioned by a failed crusade. More important, say strategists from both parties, a fiercely repeal-the-bill stance might prove far less popular in a general election than in a conservative-dominated GOP primary, especially in states such as Illinois and California" (Babington and Elliott, 3/31).
Politico, in a separate story: Democrats are keying in on anger from conservatives during the debate and using it to score political points. "First Democrats made fundraising appeals highlighting the death threats and vandalism against Democratic lawmakers and their families and alleged racial and anti-gay slurs directed at African American and gay lawmakers who supported the health overhaul. Frustrated by charges that inflammatory rhetoric from Republicans and tea party activists opposed to the legislation caused the harassment, conservatives have undertaken a concerted push to change the narrative." Their comments have Republicans saying they are facing the comments and harassment as well (Vogel and Sherman, 3/30).