Obama Heads West To Stump for Efforts To Overhaul Health Care
President Obama is holding two town-hall meetings on health reform in the mountain West, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. He will visit Bozeman, Mont., on Friday and Grand Junction, Colo., on Saturday.
According to the AP/Chronicle, Obama will speak to voters who have turned away from the president's agenda in recent months because of concerns about expanding government and widening budget deficits.
The voters also are concerned about the cost of the health care overhaul proposed by Obama (Sidoti/Wyatt, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/14).
According to the White House, Obama is holding the meetings so that he can address misconceptions that have dominated the health care debate recently.
On Thursday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that misconceptions have contributed to sagging public support for Obama's reform proposals. He said that "we're not going to stop pushing back on the misconceptions, whether or not the polling shows one thing or another. The president ... strongly believes that ... it's better to address what people's concerns are and take them on head-on" (Kornblut, Washington Post, 8/14).
Analysts Way In
Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, said that, in some ways, "Obama has lost control of the debate" because distortions by conservative activists "have spread like wildfire." He said, "You've got middle Americans scared to death," adding that activists "start the brushfire, and since there's no one credible in the middle, no 15 Republican senators to stand up and say it's not true, it takes on a life of its own" (Lochhead, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/14).
Still, some experts believe there is still time to turn the debate in favor of health reform proposals.James Morone, a Brown University professor, said, "A president, only a president, has a pulpit bully enough to reshape the debate," adding, "It's entirely in Obama's hands" (Zengerle, Reuters, 8/14). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.