Tales from the Trail

Healthcare accomplished, the messenger is leaving

Here’s an example of quitting while you’re ahead.

Linda Douglass took on what some last year might have considered an unenviable task — pushing the message of  President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform against a tide of criticism and a history of failure by past administrations.

 Remember, last year it did not always seem like a go.

But now that healthcare reform is in fact the law of the land, the former ABC News correspondent turned Obama campaign spokeswoman turned administration healthcare reform messenger has decided now would be a good time to leave and get back to basics. OBAMA/

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve the President, and leaving this great team is bittersweet. After nearly two years of work that has been exhilarating and grueling in equal measure, I am going to step off the treadmill for awhile and rediscover the experience of dining with my husband on a regular basis,” Douglass said in a statement.

“It has been a privilege to be part of the health care team, and I will be cheering with pride from the sidelines as this historic law takes effect,” she said. 

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said that “Linda has been and will continue to be a valued advisor to this President and this White House. She was instrumental in the passage of historic health reform. We’ll miss her hard work and the cheer she brought to the effort.”

Healthcare bill signing: exuberance, exclamations, expletives

With all the giddiness over the signing of the hard-fought healthcare reform bill into law, Vice President Joe Biden might be forgiven for dropping the F-bomb in the ear of the President of the United States … on open mike.

Fox News caught it and now it’s on YouTube for all to hear.

You have to listen closely.

Right after Biden introduces President Barack Obama at the White House East Room bill signing event, when they’re shaking hands, Biden turns and whispers in Obama’s ear: “This is a big f—ing deal.” (Just to be clear, there’s a u, c, and k missing from the quote).

Slight laughter from Obama before saying “thank you everybody” and beginning his remarks to the Democrats gathered before him.

Obama seeks to cast healthcare vote as test of courage

Do they have what it takes?

In a new twist, President Barack Obama is trying to turn the tough politics involved in the healthcare reform push into an argument for passing his top domestic priority. OBAMA/

Obama is telling fellow Democrats that supporting legislation to overhaul the $2.5 trillion healthcare system, despite its lack of popularity, would be a mark of courage.

At a pair of fundraisers in St. Louis for U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, Obama said voters sent their politicians to Washington to make hard choices and that passing healthcare was the right thing to do.

Will presidential weight carry healthcare through?

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.

Bipartisanship: can words be put into action in election year?

The president wants it. The public wants it.

But when it comes to bipartisanship, words are easier than action — especially in an election year. OBAMA/

President Barack Obama, who met with congressional leaders from both parties on Tuesday, called for bipartisan solutions to some of  the weighty issues of the day: job creation and deficit reduction.

“As I said in my State of the Union, part of what we’d like to see is the ability of Congress to move forward in a more bipartisan fashion on some of the key challenges that the country is facing right now,” Obama said before the meeting.

McCain vows to press fight against Democratic deal-making on health reform

A Senate healthcare vote in the wee hours Monday morning got Senator John McCain riled up and quoting Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones.

The 60-40 procedural vote let Democrats limit debate on the healthcare bill and quashed any Republican hopes for a filibuster, where they could grab control of the floor and talk the measure to death.
The move prompted Republicans to cry foul. War hero McCain gave notice that he wasn’t letting go. He invoked war hero and naval Captain John Paul Jones, who famously rejected suggestions of surrender and told his British opponent, “I have not yet begun to fight.”

McCain was rather less pithy. He vowed to travel the country, visiting town halls, senior centers and Rotary Clubs to rally opposition to the healthcare reform bill.

Dean, Scarborough claim health insurance stocks hit 52-YEAR high. Really?

Numbers can be tricky. And when trying to make political points in Washington, they probably should be checked twice (like Santa’s list of naughty and nice). USA-WEATHER/SNOWSTORM

So when Howard Dean, an influential liberal Democrat, and Joe Scarborough, a conservative Republican commentator, both used the SAME figure to make the SAME point that the Senate healthcare bill would mainly help insurance companies, it caught our attention.

First came Dean on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” saying:  “In this last week of unseemly scrambling for votes, we have committed to go down a path in this country where private insurance will be the way that we achieve universal health care.”

Unions oppose Baucus healthcare bill

Twenty-seven U.S. labor unions warn that the healthcare bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee is deeply flawed and they want to see some changes — or else they will oppose it.

baucusbil2 The coalition of major unions, who support healthcare reform, issued its warning in a full-page ad in Wednesday’s Washington Post.
“Unless the bill that goes to the floor of the U.S. Senate makes substantial progress to address the concerns of working men and women,  we will oppose it,” the ad says.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus’ healthcare plan does not include a government-run “public” insurance option backed by President Barack Obama.

Pinky finger bitten off in healthcare reform fracas

The healthcare reform debate just reached a new level of vitriol, with a pro-reform protester biting off the fingertip of a counter-demonstrator in a fistfight between the two men, according to police in California.fingerbiter

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department says the brawl erupted Wednesday evening outside a shopping mall in the Los Angeles suburb of Thousand Oaks.

Dozens of protesters holding a rally in support of President Obama’s healthcare reform plan got into a shouting match with a smaller group of anti-reform demonstrators across the street. The conflict escalated as a member of the pro-Obama group and a member of the counter-demonstration confronted each other and a physical fight ensued, sheriff’s spokesman Eric Buschow said.

Help Obama, win a trip to see where he was born

Have a hankering to visit a hospital in Hawaii?

USA-ELECTION/You could win a trip to tour the hospital where President Barack Obama was born. All you have to do is to submit the winning idea on how people can help Obama change the country for the better.

Progress Now, a liberal grass roots group, launched a new program to urge people across the country to help Obama pass healthcare reform and enact his other core campaign promises.

According to a press release, this campaign is the first part of the national launch of the ’50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America’ — a book by ProgressNow founder Michael Huttner.