Obama Appeals To Doubters: Health Care Plan A ‘Moral Obligation’
Politico reports on the various paths the White House could take regarding strategy for passage of a health care reform bill. "No matter which way they go, the White House and congressional Democrats face long odds, and no guarantee of a bill at the end of the process. Obama could sidestep one problem -- a Republican filibuster in the Senate -- if he goes with a partisan bill and attempts to pass it through procedural maneuver known as reconciliation. But he may well find a long list of other challenges, both political and legislative." They include uniting Democrats, the labyrinth of the reconciliation process and a skeptical public.
Democratic patience may have one more month before Democrats push ahead alone on reform: "The White House and congressional Democrats are expected to wait until at least mid-September before deciding to abandon the bipartisan Senate Finance Committee talks" (Brown, 8/20).
In the meantime, President Obama Wednesday called getting health care reform done a "core ethical and moral obligation" to cover all Americans and lower costs, The New York Times reports.
Obama made his comments to a group of multidenominational pastors, rabbis and other religious leaders. "As the president returned to the health care debate after two days of silence, the administration encouraged Republicans to take part in the negotiations. Still, Democratic leaders moved ahead with plans to advance a measure next month with or without Republican cooperation" (Zeleny and Hulse, 8/19).
Politico, in a separate story: "Speaking on a conference call Wednesday evening with what organizers estimated were 140,000 members of churches and religious groups, Obama also suggested that some critics of his health care proposals were violating the Biblical commandment against lying. 'I know there's been a lot of misinformation in this debate and there are some folks out there who are, frankly, bearing false witness,' Obama said on the call, which was played out live on the internet. 'I need you to spread the facts and speak the truth'" (Gerstein, 8/20).
But McClatchy Newspapers say that Obama made a false claim himself: "He said the first thing he wanted to correct was the idea that the proposed overhaul would force some people into different health care plans. 'If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan,' he said, repeating one of his stock lines. That's not true, however, according to FactCheck.org, an independent truth squad run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania" (Thomma, 8/19).
Obama, did say Wednesday that he still hopes for a bipartisan bill, The Hill reports: "In response to a reporter's question on the South Lawn following an event honoring NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, Obama said he is 'absolutely confident that we are going to get a bill, and I hope it's bipartisan'" (Youngman, 8/19).
Obama will take his case Thursday to critics and supporters of reform, the Los Angeles Times reports: "The twin appeals reflect Obama's strategy at a crucial stage in the struggle: With prospects for real bipartisan agreement on a healthcare bill fading, the president is working harder to stimulate his grass-root forces and, at the same time, project an image of trying to move beyond the bitter partisanship of recent years." Obama will meet with supporters in a strategy session and will sit with Michael Smerconish, who hosts a nationally syndicated radio show from Philadelphia (Parsons and Hook, 8/20).
The White House also admitted missteps in health reform, The Hill reports in a second story: "'I don't think anybody here believes we've pitched a no-hit game, or a perfect game,' said Gibbs, who was bombarded again with questions about whether President Barack Obama will attempt to strip a public insurance option from the final bill or move the overhaul without Republican votes. 'I think we just have to continue to be out there,' he said" (Youngman, 8/19).