Obama Administration Takes On Attacks, Rallies Senate Democrats
President Obama and his Administration launched "a coordinated effort Tuesday to combat what it calls a 'viral whisper campaign' against health reform, Politico reports. The effort "continued through the day with press secretary Robert Gibbs and Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse both saying a series of confrontational town hall meetings were manufactured by Republicans, conservative groups and lobbyists who are paid to drum up opposition."
Administration officials are using Internet tools such as video and Twitter to combat opponents. "'We are going to be very aggressive,' said David Axelrod, a White House senior adviser. 'The last thing we want to do is let misimpressions fester because we were laggard in responding'" (Brown, 8/4).
The White House also released a video attempting to debunk what it calls myths on Obama's stance on eliminating private insurers, The Associated Press reports. "The 3-minute White House video features Linda Douglass, a former network television correspondent and now White House Office of Health Reform communications director, sitting in front of a computer screen showing the Drudge Report Web site. That site carries a series of video clips from another blogger who strings together selected Obama statements on health care to make it appear he wants to eliminate the private health insurance business" (8/4).
The Los Angeles Times: "It's unusual for the White House to give such prominence to a conservative-leaning website -- one Democrats often deride. But in the battle to pass a healthcare bill, the administration has concluded that accusations cannot go unanswered and that campaign-style tools and technology are needed to prevail" (Nicholas, 8/5).
Obama himself Tuesday gave a power-lunch "pep talk" at the White House to Senate Democrats who are trying to forge consensus on a health care reform bill, CQ Politics reports. "The meeting clearly was designed to get Democrats working from a common playbook over the August recess. Centrist party members in both chambers have become increasingly skittish about details of the health care bill and its price tag, as Republicans have kept up withering attacks on both."
The Democrats also discussed using the budget reconciliation process - to pass a bill with a simple majority - as a last resort, the Web site reports (Hunter, 8/4).
The New York Times: "Senate Democratic leaders have been urging the White House to provide more explicit guidance about what Mr. Obama wants to see in a bill. The president apparently did not provide such guidance on Tuesday. Centrist Democrats said they were heartened by what they saw as Mr. Obama's apparent willingness to compromise" (Pear and Herszenhorn, 8/4).
The Washington Post: "During the luncheon, Obama characterized enactment of a landmark health-care bill as one of the most important things the senators could do in their careers, according to one aide in the room. Baucus said that a bipartisan bill remains Obama's "predilection" but that the president expressed concerns about whether the goal is attainable" (Connolly, 8/5).
CNN: "Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, who is heading negotiations among six members of his panel on what would be the only bipartisan health care proposal so far, said he expected the process to succeed. 'We're going to get health care reform passed this year working together,' Baucus said" (8/4).
The Christian Science Monitor: If a bipartisan plan fails, "Democrats at the event say the president also spoke of the need to try something else. And the point at which Democrats go it alone may well be Sept. 15, they said" (Chaddock, 8/4).