Will presidential weight carry healthcare through?

March 3, 2010

President Barack Obama spoke. Republicans talked back.

USA HEALTHCARE/OBAMA SPEECHNo sign that anyone shifted positions after the president’s remarks today in the East Room at the White House with lots of white hospital coats in the audience.

In fact, it appears that the two sides — Obama and the Republicans — hardened their resolve, setting the stage for a political tug-of-war that’s only going to turn more fierce as the November elections near.

Obama wants it, Republicans oppose it. But it’s the congressional Democrats left trying to push through Congress an issue that has created discord within their own ranks. Democrats in the Senate differ from their colleagues in the House on what the legislation should look like — and not all Democrats support it.

Democrat leaders are preparing to try and push the legislation through with a process called reconciliation that would require a simple majority, involve an umpire, and leave Republicans steaming.

Obama said as much in his speech without actually using the R word: “And now it deserves the same kind of up or down vote that was cast on welfare reform, that was cast on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, that was used for COBRA health coverage for the unemployed, and, by the way, for both Bush tax cuts — all of which had to pass Congress with nothing more than a simple majority.” USA-HEALTHCARE/

Republicans responded by using the election scare tactic aimed at Democrats worrying about losing seats in November — “Every election in America this fall will be a referendum on this issue,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Obama’s road trips next week to Philadelphia and St. Louis are aimed at creating momentum after asking Congress to schedule a vote in the next few weeks.

“From now until then, I will do everything in my power to make the case for reform,” he said.

Will Obama’s determination be enough to succeed where others have failed and get healthcare reform enacted?

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Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama speaks about healthcare reform), Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (McConnell talking about healthcare in December)


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What little ‘weight’ Obama had is long gone. This is going to be an old fashioned, LBJ ‘arm twisting’ game now. He will have to convince Dems that are surely going to lose seats to vote for this for ‘the greater good’.

And reconciliation is a very hard process, that Dems have overplayed. Simply put, in many ways the Republicans can block this easier than a filibuster if they wish.


Posted by neoavatara | Report as abusive

Mr.Obama got a herendous economic legacy, not far from that of the 30’s Great Depression (Bush didn’t get a great legacy either after the eight trillion wiped out from NYSE after the dot com bust, but the banking system was reasonably robust at the time).

Greenspan and the Congress (that introduced on the back-door the CDS) got away with no consequences. A kid stealing a dvd from a department store would face arrest…


Mr.Obama’s attempt to bring healthcare to all faces damnation and loby pressures from the industry that controls 17% of the US GDP.

His policies and long-term strategy would undoubtedly reassert USA as the uncontested GOOD leader.

A shift to the hawkish policies will isolate USA, will make the USD the second currency and will create uncontrollable political imbalances

Posted by paulxk | Report as abusive

Mr Obama’s bill is rotten and abusive of the elderly; it puts too much control over who gets what procedures into the hands of DC bureaucrats; it is not wanted by the majority of the public as stated in poll after poll. The Republicans better play hardball on this or our country and their party will turn a winning strategy so far into a pile of hurt!

Posted by pennypatt | Report as abusive

The majority of american citizens oppose this bill because it has had the public option taken out to keep the private medical providers happy. The majority still wants reform, just not reform that benefits corporations over people.
Republicans are running scared at this point because they know the bill is about to pass. If the public option finds its way back into the legislation, it will be the GOP that is in a world of hurt in Nov.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive

Healthcare without a public option is not worth campaigning for. Obama has neither the juice nor the minerals to put insurance industry parasites and their lobbyists where they belong – on a slow boat to the leper colony. Yet he keeps on bleating as though any rotten compromise bill’s better than no bill at all. It isn’t.

Obama’s too savvy not to realize how badly his compulsive tinkering will have hampered and set back real reform. Which means, he’s in on the fix.

Posted by HBC | Report as abusive

I agree the GOP is responsible for having the public option removed from the healthcare bill, but I’m sure the citizens are smart enough to know the most important thing right now is to get it through. The public option can be handled at a later date. Yes, the majority of the people still want reform and they see through the unamerican despicable Republican tactics to block the bill for their own personal gain from the rich lobbyists. How dare they say the American people don’t want the
bill to pass. In doing so they are insulting the American people’s intelligence.

Posted by liberated | Report as abusive


Well said. The majority of Americans have always agreed with what you are saying.

Yes, the majority have never wanted this monstrosity, public option or not.

Rasmussen has “nearly” always said people don’t want this. Right now 58 percent oppose and 61 percent say start over.

What Obama is doing is actually scary for our future.

Nov 2010 will be bad for the progressives in power. It astounds me that those progressive apologists just don’t get it. If Virginia, NJ and MA didn’t wake them up, then nothing will.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

If Obama backs down, his reputation is gone.

If he stick with it and fails, his reputation is gone.

If he sticks with it, succeeds and increases taxes in order to do so, his reputation is gone.

So it isn’t a matter of success. It is simply a matter of him choosing which path to failure he will follow.

Posted by Anon86 | Report as abusive