After months of insisting he would leave the details to Congress, President Obama has concluded that he must exert greater control over the health care debate and is preparing an intense push for legislation that will include speeches, town-hall-style meetings and much deeper engagement with lawmakers, senior White House officials say.
Mindful of the failures of former President Bill Clinton, whose intricate proposal for universal care collapsed on Capitol Hill 15 years ago, Mr. Obama until now had charted a different course, setting forth broad principles and concentrating on bringing disparate factions — doctors, insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, labor unions — to the negotiating table.
But Mr. Obama has grown concerned that he is losing the debate over certain policy prescriptions he favors, like a government-run insurance plan to compete with the private sector, said one Democrat familiar with his thinking. With Congress beginning a burst of work on the measure, top advisers say, the president is determined to make certain the final bill bears his stamp. “Ultimately, as happened with the recovery act, it will become President Obama’s plan,” the White House budget director, Peter R. Orszag, said in an interview. “I think you will see that evolution occurring over the next few weeks. We will be weighing in more definitively, and you will see him out there.”
Newt Gingrich was whining about this article on Face the Nation this morning.
In April, Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, the Budget Committee chairman, balked at the idea of having the Senate consider health legislation under the fast-track process known as reconciliation, which could avoid a Republican filibuster. At a private meeting, Mr. Obama pressed him on it.
“ ‘I want to keep it on the table as an option,’ ” Mr. Conrad recalled the president saying. Not long after that, Mr. Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, visited Mr. Conrad on Capitol Hill. Mr. Conrad was not convinced, but decided not to stand in the way. “The Budget Committee chairman does not top the president of the United States,” he said.
“He’s doing good by staying out of it as much as he is,” Mr. Grassley said. “He’d better use kid gloves at the start.”
Why does Grassley need to be coddled and treated like a kid? What's wrong with these babies? This is not a bipartisan issue. Health care is an American issue. If Republicans want to get on the fast track of actually really helping American families and Corporations then they should get out of the way and work like Americans. Needing 51 votes seems like the right course of action. Republicans will block and obstruct any real change in health care and so will the Ben Nelson's on the left. By forcing reconciliation, it sends a real message to these un-American obstructionists.