White House Rallies Support For Health Care Bills; Relationship With Chamber Of Commerce Sours
Today, "President Obama will speak from New York City by video hookup to hundreds of small gatherings sponsored by Organizing for America, a spinoff of his 2008 campaign," USA Today reports "Top White House aides will attend the regular strategy session of the Common Purpose Project, a coalition headed by former Obama campaign officials to advance his agenda. And when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gather committee leaders to write the legislation, Obama's chief of staff and other aides are at the table." White House senior adviser David Axelrod says, "[w]e certainly didn't come all this way to slack off now."
The push is "part of the strategy for a White House once accused of leaving too much up to Congress." Republican lawmakers "say that Obama hasn't specified what he wants and has left too much up to Reid and Pelosi. They also complain that the process has moved behind closed doors" (Wolf, 10/20).
Meanwhile, the rift between the White House and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is growing, The Washington Post reports. "The White House is moving aggressively to remove the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from its traditional Washington role as the chief representative for big business, the latest sign of a public feud ignited by disagreement over the administration's effort to overhaul the health-care system. Instead of working through the Chamber, President Obama has reached out to business executives, meeting repeatedly with small groups of CEOs in his private White House dining room." President Obama, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have met with some of the biggest names in the business community, including the heads of IBM, Wal-Mart Stores, Time Warner, Eastman Kodak, Starbucks, Amazon.com and Coca-Cola."
"Meanwhile, the Chamber is fighting back with its own public relations agenda, launching multimillion-dollar ad campaigns to resist several of Obama's top priorities." When Obama first took office, "the White House and the Chamber had a relatively warm relationship. Disagreements about a broad swath of the president's economic agenda soured relations" (Shear, 10/20).