Tales from the Trail

House Democrats bash health care opponents’ tactics

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hit back at protesters vocally disrupting healthcare reform meetings around the country, calling them “un-American” – and with that word ignited the ire of opposition Republicans.

Pelosi and Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote in USA Today that there was an “ugly campaign” to misrepresent the healthcare overhaul legislation being written in Congress and stop public debate, which they said is “at the heart of our democracy.”

Opponents have shouted down lawmakers at town meetings held to explain the healthcare ideas, calling the proposed government-run insurance program to compete with private insurers “socialism” – a fighting word in American politics.  “Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American,” the Democrats wrote.

The other side was quick to lob equally barbed words back. “Each public forum should give every participant the opportunity to express their views, but to label Americans who are expressing vocal opposition to the Democrats’ plan ‘un-American’ is outrageous and reprehensible,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner.

Congress is on break for the month of August, during which time Democrats were to try to sell healthcare reform ideas to the public.

from FaithWorld:

Liberal U.S. religious groups launch “40 Days of Health Reform”


Liberal U.S. religious groups launched "40 Days of Health Reform" on Monday.

You can see our coverage here and a video of their nationwide TV spot below.

The campaign aims to energize efforts by President Barack Obama and his Democratic Party to overhaul America's healthcare system.

(PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama holds a town hall meeting about healthcare at the Kroger Supermarket in Bristol, Virginia July 29, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing)

Pelosi bites hand that feeds her?

USA/Over the past few days, with the healthcare reform debate raging in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has lit into the U.S. insurance industry.

“Immoral” and “villains” are among the words she has used to describe the companies for their opposition to a publicly run health plan.  And she has castigated their policies of refusing to take care of pre-existing medical conditions and capping benefits of cancer patients.

“The glory days are coming to an end,” Pelosi warned those companies, vowing to build support for the bill she’s pushing.

The First Draft: China and healthcare

Topics of the day today: more healthcare and U.S.-Chinese relations

President Barack Obama speaks at the beginning of a two-day U.S.-Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, then top Chinese and U.S. officials will work on developing a new framework for U.S.-Chinese relations.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner are among the high-level officials taking part in the meeting. The duo wrote an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal talking about the need for working with China.

HEALTHCARE/GRASSROOTSCongress is still working on healthcare reform, although Obama has eased up on his August deadline for working out a deal. Democratic lawmakers will be working on ironing out differences within their own party. Obama has learned that although both the House and the Senate have big Democratic majorities, that’s not always enough to get legislation passed.

The First Draft: postmortem

Did President Barack Obama step on his own healthcare message last night?

Morning TV shows led with his comments about  black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates who was arrested after trying to get into his own home.

OBAMA/Obama said police acted “stupidly,” a comment likely to lose him some friends in law enforcement, and that the incident was a reminder the race issue “still haunts us.”

It was a brand new comment from the president on a hot-button issue: race relations in America.

Obama trying hard to get healthcare back on track

President Barack Obama is pushing hard to get health care reform back on track after it veered a bit off course while he was in Europe last week.

He has spent the better part of the week pushing the issue. First he went after “nay-sayers and cynics,” warning them “don’t bet against us.”

“I just want to put everybody on notice, because there was a lot of chatter during the week that I was gone: We are going to get this done,” he said. “Inaction is not an option.”
Then he stood with nursing leaders in the Rose Garden and tried to buck people up.

The First Draft: Power of persuasion?

President Barack Obama has targetted healthcare reform as his top legislative priority. Now he just has to convince Congress to make it work.

OBAMA/Over the past week, Obama has stepped up pressure on lawmakers, speaking out each day about the need for an overhaul of the unwieldy system. He also has invited key lawmakers to the White House for a little personal persuasion.

Four Republican senators made the trip down Pennsylvania Avenue to see the president on Wednesday and today he’ll meet with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe and Democrat Ben Nelson. Yesterday Obama also took the opportunity of congratulating the newest congresswoman — Judy Chu of California — on her victory to make a special mention of healthcare and the need to reform the system and lower costs for Americans.

The First Draft: It’s healthcare and Supreme Court – again

Today seems a bit like a repeat of yesterday, just with a bit of a twist.

On the healthcare front, action moves to the Senate side with the Health, Education, Labor and CONGRESS-HEALTHCARE/Pensions Committee due to finish work on and present its version of the healthcare bill . The Senate Finance Committee is still hammering out details on how to pay for a massive healthcare overhaul and holds a closed door meeting before it presents its version of the bill next week.

President Barack Obama will increase his pressure on lawmakers to reach agreement with a Rose Garden address at 1:05 pm EDT/1705 GMT on the need for health care reform. Obama, who has made the healthcare overhaul his top legislative priority, on Tuesday voiced support for a House of Representatives proposal that would pay for the reform by levying a new tax on the wealthy.

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor heads back to face the Senate Judiciary Committee at 9:30 EDT/1330 GMT for the second day of questioning in her nomination hearing.

The First Draft: Now to the Q+A for Sotomayor

The gloves are coming off.USA-COURT/SOTOMAYOR

After a day spent mostly silent, looking on as senators in the Judiciary Committee made their formal opening statements and others lauded her accomplishments, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will be peppered with questions today about her qualifications for the life-time appointment.

Sotomayor likely will face tough questioning as the lawmakers seek to find out where she might take the country on issues such as abortion, guns and race. Though Republicans have conceded that Sotomayor will most likely win confirmation in the Democrat-dominated Senate, they likely will use the opportunity to focus on what they call her “activist” history.

Also on Capitol Hill, other lawmakers continue to work on legislation to revamp the healthcare industry after President Barack Obama “put everybody on notice” on Monday and and vowed to overhaul the system.

The First Draft: The judge faces her questioners

Confirmation hearings begin for Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic USA-COURT/SOTOMAYORwoman to be nominated for the Supreme Court.

President Barack Obama ‘s pick to fill his first high court vacancy will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday at 10 a.m. EDT/1400 GMT, with hearings expected to last most of the week.

After returning from a weeklong overseas trip, Obama called Sotomayor to wish her luck as she headed to Capitol Hill to face her questioners.