Tales from the Trail

Obama to the moon for healthcare… er not so fast

SPACE SHUTTLEPresident Barack Obama is so determined to get healthcare reform done that he would go to the moon, his spokesman says.

Well here’s the thing…

A presidential review panel has determined that there isn’t enough money in NASA’s budget to send American astronauts to the moon by 2020, so unless Obama wants to wait…

Obama has basically been dodging asteroids over his healthcare plan recently.

So when his spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked if the president might go to Capitol Hill in September to rustle up some votes, he replied: ”I think the president would orbit the moon if he thought it would help.”

Critics complain that Obama’s healthcare plan will lead to astronomical deficits.

Photo credit: Reuters/Scott Audette (moon seen from near Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral)

The First Draft: what now?

The healthcare debate keeps going round and round. And it’s still weeks before Congress gets back from summer recess when something can actually happen — if lawmakers are so inclined. USA/

The New York Times has a front-page story that says Democrats now believe chances of winning Republicans over on healthcare slim so they’re going to use their majority numbers and go it alone.

George Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton administration official, had a juicy tidbit on ABC’s Good Morning America — he says White House officials have talked privately on whether to use Hillary and Bill Clinton — the current secretary of state and the former president — more on healthcare, but no final decisions have been made.

Healthcare: learning to backpedal

The training wheels are off for the Obama administration, which has passed the six-month mark in office. But officials are just now learning the Washington sport of backpedaling.

It started over the weekend when President Barack Obama and Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared to soften the stance that a public insurance option would be required in any healthcare reform plan.

That led to an outcry from liberal Democrats, most notably House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the public option was the best option.

The First Draft: storms rolling in

Lots of storms swirling today.

Tropical Storm Claudette hit the Florida coast in the wee hours of the morning, whipping morning television into the obligatory frenzy of reporting from rain-soaked correspondents demonstrating the weather.

The healthcare storm is far from over. OBAMA/

The Obama administration putting out the word that the public option feature of its health plan is not a dealbreaker.  Our expert tells us that public option basically means it would be a government-run plan like Medicare. Too early to tell whether the shift in strategy will help win votes in Congress.

President Barack Obama switches issues today from healthcare to the war in Afghanistan when he speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, the last stop of his long weekend out West.

Hang on a sec, Mr. President — Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin has issued a robust — and lengthy! — response to President Barack Obama after he accused her of trying to scare old folks for raising questions about “death panels.”

We’ll get to Palin in just a minute because when she talks, people listen. But first, what are death panels, you might ask?

Well, we read through a section of healthcare legislation being considered by the House of Representatives — section 1233 of H.R. 3200 called Advance Care Planning Consultation. It seems vague enough that you can read into it what you want. We’ll link to the section at the bottom for those who want to read more about it. It would allow Medicare to pay for consultations with physicians about end-of-life care while not requiring them.

White House calls Sarah Palin distributor of bad healthcare info

The White House is singling out gone-but-not-forgotten Sarah Palin for whipping up some of the opposition to Democratic healthcare proposals. PALIN/

You’ll recall that last week, the former Alaska governor and Republican star said on her Facebook page that the Democrats want to create “death panels” in which bureaucrats would decide end-of-life care issues for old folks. Some of us read about this in the newspaper, because we don’t have a Facebook page.

Obama called this an example of the “scare tactics” that opponents of his healthcare overhaul have come up with and that the last thing he wants to do is pull the plug on grandma, or something like that.

The First Draft: Q and A

All eyes on President Barack Obama’s news conference tonight at 8 p.m.

With his almost daily statements on healthcare, it’s going to take skill to say it all again in a new way. USA-HEALTHCARE/

Obama is also facing the press when public opinion polls show falling support of his handling of the issue and as some lawmakers from his own party balk at the hefty pricetag.

The August recess deadline for Congress to pass healthcare legislation  appears to be slipping away.

Blue Dogs howling at healthcare

This time it’s the Blue Dogs turning their noses up at healthcare reform proposals. AUSTRIA/

The House Energy and Commerce Committee canceled its healthcare markup  because the fiscally conservative Democrats growled about the steep pricetag.

President Barack Obama, top dog in this town, invited them to the White House to chew about it.

The First Draft: healthcare march

President Barack Obama keeps up the march on healthcare, although today’s headlines are turning a bit pessimistic.

The Washington Post leads with “GOP Focuses Effort to Kill Health Bills,” and The New York Times has “Obama Pushing, But Early Vote On Health Fades.”

Obama is scheduled to make brief remarks on healthcare at about 1 p.m., before meeting with Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee at 1:20 p.m. (imagine some arm-twisting at that table), before the panel continues mark up of healthcare billat 2 p.m.

The First Draft: numbers down

The numbers are down and that’s not good for President Barack Obama’s healthcare push.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows public support of  Obama’s handling of healthcare reform, a centerpiece of his domestic agenda, fell below 50 percent for the first time.

OBAMA/That could be a big OH-OH by providing critics (some in Obama’s own Democratic party)  ammunition against the plan that is estimated to cost more than $1 trillion.