Obama Takes Argument for Health Care Reform Directly to the Public
At an event for Democratic Party fundraisers Monday, President Obama vowed to enact health care reform before the end of the year and took on critics of his proposals for health care reform, the AP/USA Today reports.
In front of about 400 attendees, Obama took a "confrontational tone" toward critics, many of whom disagree with a proposal to include a public option in a reform bill, according to the AP/USA Today.
Obama said, "You'll hear a bunch of muttering and yammering and they'll say, 'Well, we agree with reform, too,'" adding, "Well, OK, if you agree with reform, then step up" (AP/USA Today, 6/29).
Although Obama has so far limited his involvement in the debates over reform on Capitol Hill, he is increasing pressure on lawmakers to get reform passed by enlisting the help of governors and Organizing for America, his grassroots group affiliated with the Democratic National Committee (Stolberg, New York Times, 6/30).
In addition, Obama is attempting to garner support for health reform by holding an "online town hall" meeting on Wednesday in Annandale, Va., where he will take questions from the audience and social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter (Koffler, Roll Call, 6/28).
During a meeting last week with a bipartisan group of five governors, Obama urged them to act as ambassadors to Congress, even coaching them on what phrases to use when discussing health reform, meeting attendees said.
Gov. Michael Rounds (R-S.D.) said he believes that Obama is hoping to have "a bipartisan group of governors working directly with lawmakers to perhaps break a stalemate."
According to the Times, Obama is "reprising a strategy that worked for him during the debate over his economic stimulus package, when he found far more support among Republican governors than among Republican lawmakers," particularly because governors are concerned about the rising price of Medicaid and proposals to expand the program.
Also, while members of Congress are back in their districts during the July 4 recess, OFA has organized blood drives, medical research fundraisers and volunteer days at community health centers in an effort to reinforce that the public wants health reform now.
According to the Times, "there are risks" with Obama's strategy of staying out of the congressional debate. The Times reports that if Obama stays clear of the debate for too long, he could miss an opportunity to use "his presidential muscle to forge consensus."
In addition, he also could lose the ability to control a final bill because lawmakers could craft "backroom deals he dislikes," according to the Times (New York Times, 6/30).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.