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ObamaCare: Hiding the Ball; Working the Refs

John on July 22, 2009 at 2:17 pm

The President is getting desperate over health reform. His numbers on the issue have dropped below 50% for the first time. But rather than compromise on the public option and make some changes everyone agrees to, he has decided to play Chicago politics:

  • Monday 7/20, the AP reports that the White House is delaying the “annual midsummer budget update” until after the August recess. Bad news about the economy could be the final nail in health care’s coffin, so they’ll just make it disappear.
    • Ezra Klein, a supporter of ObamaCare, predictably claims to not see the big deal: “To delay it from 17 months before the next election to 15 months before the next election? It points towards a conspiracy so vast as to be entirely incomprehensible.” Okay, let me break it down for you. Obama has promised a vote before the August recess. Elemendorf just handed ObamaCare its head last week and the public is backing away largely over the cost. So, at this moment, delaying the report has the effect of hiding unpleasant realities from the public and nervous congresspeople as Obama tries to Rahm this turkey through. Get it now?
  • Monday 7/20, Obama summoned CBO director Doug Elmendorf to the White House. Elmendorf had done significant damage to Obama’s plan when he stated in congressional testimony that the bill would cost more and save less than advertised. Now Obama presses him for ways to cut costs, i.e. what will it take to get you to sign off on this bill?
  • Wednesday 7/22, the LA Times reports [HT: Greg Sargent] that the White House refuses to disclose a list of the Health Industry Executives who’ve visited the White House to contribute to the reform proposal. This is in stark contrast to Obama’s promises as a candidate:
    • As a candidate, President Obama vowed that in devising a healthcare bill he would invite in TV cameras — specifically C-SPAN — so that Americans could have a window into negotiations that normally play out behind closed doors.
  • Wedensday 7/22, Politico reports that David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political strategist “met with a group of columnists and reporters to talk health care.” This meeting with reporters came, appropriately enough, after a meeting with Robert Gibbs, the President’s spokesman. Politico notes that “Among the group were John Harwood of the New York Times and CNBC and Howard Fineman of Newsweek.” Expect glowing reviews of Obama’s health reform pitch, scheduled for prime time tonight.
  • National Journal reports a remark passed along by Senator Grassley: “A Democrat congressman last week told me after a conversation with the president that the president had trouble in the House of Representatives, and it wasn’t going to pass if there weren’t some changes made … and the president says, ‘You’re going to destroy my presidency.‘ “

It’s slipping away and he knows it. His answer: Hide the ball on the costs and work the refs on the benefits. And to hell with transparency. This is about winning, all the rest is details at this point.

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Category: Politics |

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